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September 2006, Volume 36 Number 9 , p 18 - 18


  • Joan E. King RN, C, ACNP, ANP, PhD


King, Joan E. RN, C, ACNP, ANP, PhD

I recently cared for a young woman with type 1 diabetes who was admitted to our unit for nausea and vomiting. She was diagnosed with gastroparesis secondary to diabetes. What is gastroparesis?—P.P., CALIF.

Joan E. King, RN, C, ACNP, ANP, PhD, replies: Gastroparesis, or delayed emptying of the stomach, can be caused by gastric surgery, a vagotomy, or hypothyroidism. It can also result from neuropathy in patients with either type of diabetes. Although the exact etiology of gastroparesis is unknown, elevated blood glucose levels may damage the vagus nerve, delaying gastric emptying.

Signs and symptoms of gastroparesis include abdominal bloating, nausea, vomiting of undigested food, gastric reflux, and loss of appetite. Inconsistent gastric emptying leads to an erratic glucose level, putting the patient with diabetes in a vicious cycle of hyperglycemia leading to gastroparesis, and gastroparesis leading to hyperglycemia.

Diagnostic tests include an upper gastrointestinal ...

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