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23 Surprising Physical Symptoms of Gastroparesis

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Editor's Note

Any medical information included is based on a personal experience. For questions or concerns regarding health or diagnoses, please consult a doctor or medical professional.

Gastroparesis (GP) is a condition that affects stomach motility and causes delayed gastric emptying. Common symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain or weight loss – but though these symptoms may sound similar to a nasty stomach bug, that is certainly not the case. GP is a very complex, lifelong illness that can produce a wide range of symptoms and side effects. These physical symptoms can be debilitating and life-altering, and they can have profound effects on a person’s mental health, lifestyle or ability to work, go to school or do their favorite activities.

We wanted to better understand the reality of what it’s like to live with the illness, so we asked our Mighty community to share a surprising physical symptom of gastroparesis they’ve experienced. Has GP affected you in any unexpected ways? Let us know in the comments below.

Here’s what our community shared with us:

  1. The fatigue, being so exhausted from the spewing and the pain but at the same time not being able to drift off to sleep. Never knew being unwell could be so exhausting.” – Michelle A.
  2. Sometimes I bend over in gut pain and just suffer through because going to an ER never helps.” – Amanda B.
  3. “Throwing up so violently that I pee on myself! Makes me afraid to leave my house, so I always bring spare clothes. Sad and embarrassing!” – Monique B.
  4. My hair has fallen out (alopecia) due to malnutrition, medicine and stress.” – Jaimy K.V.
  5. “I can’t keep food down no matter what, taking my life away.” – Donna S.
  6. “The exhaustion from doing almost nothing, feeling dizzy and ill every time I bend over for too long, throwing up every time I have a runny nose because the post-nasal drip upsets my stomach… the list of symptoms I wasn’t aware of is ever-growing. I am supposed to take vitamins and supplements because I can’t eat a balanced diet without being sick, but taking too many pills can also make me sick. Every month my menstrual cramps cause my stomach to act up, even in months when it is generally behaving.” – Kelby W.
  7. “Anxiety. It’s terrifying going out for a meal when you’re not sure you can keep it down. Even when I’m responding to medication the anxiety doesn’t easily go away.” – Katherine M.
  8. The worst for me is controlling my diabetes. I’ll eat, take my insulin and then a half hour later I have to use glucose gel (no desire to eat again and it won’t help anyways). Then a couple hours later I have to correct a high sugar level when my meal finally starts affecting me. It’s a vicious cycle.” – Callie H.
  9. Being dizzy all the time, passing out, not being able to shower in hot water during a flare because of the lightheadedness.” – Lillian R.
  10. “My body bloats from starvation, from eating less than 500 calories a day. I can no longer wear anything that has a zipper or button and no bra either.” – Wendy E.
  11. Excruciating teeth sensitivity is a major consequence of gastroparesis, due to excessive acid reflux and vomiting. It doesn’t matter how persistent and dedicated I am to dental hygiene and care (special toothpaste, flossing, swishing warm water around after vomiting to rinse the acid off, etc.), there will still be pain, spontaneous chills up and down my spine and shoulders as cold air enters my mouth when I’m talking, and increased levels of insecurity due to some of my teeth becoming slightly misshapen and worn down. I feel like people don’t talk about it as much as it should be talked about.” – Lauren B.
  12. “Aggressive aspiration pneumonia from vomiting so much. Six days in the hospital with two types of antibiotics into a picc line still didn’t clear it up. The ‘it could be lung cancer‘ scare and waiting three days for results.” – Kim Ann M.
  13. I have pregnancy nose… my sense of smell has been exacerbated by 100 times… which makes me dry heave even worse than before.” – Kae W.
  14. “I never had an appetite nor am I ever hungry. I always thought it was normal until I began to lose an alarming amount of weight. Even just a small bite of food could fill me up to the point I want to burst.” – Alexis B.
  15. I can’t bend forward – like to pick things up off the ground – for a few hours after eating because things come back up.” – Erin H.
  16. “The never-ending ‘morning sickness,’ every morning I am abruptly awoken by the sudden and urgent need to vomit.” – Abigail R.
  17. Remission/relapse. My currency. I’ve been in remission and ‘good’ for months and now my body is back to suffering. I know it can only be managed but it’s like a downward spiral of sadness now.” – Lyssa A.
  18. The weight yo-yo! I constantly am up and down and it’s hard to get clothes that fit because I yoyo too much!” – Amanda E.
  19. “For me it’s how I can get full from a cup of tea. I can’t eat and drink anything at the same time. I have to make a choice or I won’t have room for much. So I’m forced to eat everything without a sip of anything if I want to get solid foods in.” – Dorothy F.
  20. I feel like I’ve run a mile when I’ve only walked to class. Please tell me I’m not the only one who feels like this!” – Heather W.
  21. “Being a ‘gainer.’ I never thought after my initial diagnosis and huge weight loss that suddenly GP would have the opposite effect. I’m still sick all the time and barely eat, yet somehow I’m at my highest weight ever!” – Jessica A.
  22. For me the worst was the pain, like a sharp/plus full ache from front to back… and how you can have a flat stomach all day and look sick but bring on bedtime and you look six months pregnant! That always confuses me!” – Tristelle T.
  23. The long, extremely loud and painful belching. It’s so embarrassing. I have been so scared to go anywhere since it’s so unpredictable. It scares my dogs! If it scares them it would terrify children. I do, however, win all family in contests now. I try to see the positive.” – Amanda O.
Originally published: May 31, 2018
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