MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C.—Gastroparesis Awareness Month, established by IFFGD in 2016, takes place every year during the month of August. IFFGD utilizes its platform to support the gastroparesis community by raising awareness to promote education and encourage research. Gastroparesis is a chronic gastrointestinal (GI) disorder affecting approximately 5 million people in the United States and about 38 women and 10 men per 100,000 people.
For more than 35 years, IFFGD has advocated for more research to help improve diagnostic and treatment options available to improve the quality of life for those with GI disorders like gastroparesis.
Ceciel Rooker, IFFGD president, explained, “The symptoms, burdens, and challenges that many face while living with gastroparesis can be extremely debilitating and life-threatening, and in order for advances in the diagnosis, treatment, and care of gastroparesis to be made, their voices must be heard.”
Gastroparesis (GP) is a condition of slowed stomach emptying with no intestinal blockage. Healthcare providers often refer to it as delayed gastric emptying. This is a motility disorder where the stomach does not empty food as quickly as it should. Symptoms usually occur during or after a meal and can appear suddenly or gradually.
Symptoms of gastroparesis typically include:
• Nausea and/or vomiting
• Stomach pain and discomfort
• Dry heaves
• Stomach fullness after a normal-sized meal
• Early fullness and the inability to finish a meal
• Additional symptoms, such as bloating, stomach discomfort or pain, loss of appetite, and heartburn, among others, may occur.
• Left unmanaged, gastroparesis can lead to additional complications, including severe dehydration, obstruction, poor insulin control in individuals with underlying diabetes, and malnutrition due to poor absorption of nutrients.
Despite the burden posed on those affected, gastroparesis remains a little-known condition, and many face diagnostic delays, suffering an average of five years before receiving the answers and care that they need. Patients may experience multiple misdiagnoses during this time, undergoing numerous hospitalizations and diagnostic tests.
“The search for answers often leaves those affected feeling helpless. But this year, for Gastroparesis Awareness Month, we will shed light on ways to overcome these challenges,” said Rooker.
In recognition of Gastroparesis Awareness Month, IFFGD will launch a campaign to acknowledge the challenges of living with gastroparesis, including symptom burdens, finding the right treatment options, and lifestyle modifications. The campaign will use the hashtag #LivingWithGP.
The International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders is a nonprofit education and research organization dedicated to improving the lives of people affected by a chronic gastrointestinal disorder. Founded in 1991, IFFGD helps improve care by enhancing awareness, improving education, and supporting and encouraging research into treatments and cures for chronic digestive diseases.