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A healthy stomach’s strong muscular contractions are pushing food on its long and convoluted journey through digestive tract. In people with Gastroparesis however, the muscles in the stomach wall work poorly or not at all, preventing the stomach from emptying properly.
No available treatments can cure gastroparesis yet but fortunately some dietary changes and certain medications sometimes help control the symptoms.
Stomach anatomy and physiology
The stomach is a hollow organ composed primarily of muscle whose role is to storage food. It consists of two parts:
- The upper portion is called the fundus which is where swallowed food and liquid collect.
- The lower portion is called the antrum. This is the stomach grinder.
In healthy individuals the food in the stomach is ground into tiny pieces by the constant churning that is generated by the contractions of the stomach’s muscles. After that it is slowly emptied from the stomach into the intestine. Only food which is ground into small particles can be emptied from the stomach because smaller particles are much better digested in the intestine. The ground food coming from the stomach is being well-mixed with the digestive juices of the intestine, pancreas, and liver (bile) and is easily absorbed from the intestine.
It is clear that, when the stomach’s muscles are paralyzed, food is not thoroughly ground and does not empty into the intestine properly. The condition may cause the delayed emptying of solid food, solid and liquid food, or liquid food alone.