Gastroparesis may be chronic or transient; transient gastroparesis may arise in acute illness of any kind, with the use of certain cancer treatments or other drugs which affect digestive action, or due to anorexia, bulimia and other abnormal eating patterns.
Chronic gastroparesis is frequently due to autonomic neuropathy. This may occur in people with type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes. The vagus nerve becomes damaged by years of high blood glucose, resulting in gastroparesis. Gastroparesis has also been associated with various autoimmune diseases and syndromes, such as fibromyalgia and Parkinson's disease, and may occur as part of a mitochondrial disorder.
Chronic gastroparesis can also be caused by other types of damage to the vagus nerve, such as abdominal surgery.
Idiopathic gastroparesis (gastroparesis with no known cause) accounts for a third of all chronic cases; it is thought that many of these cases are due to an autoimmune response triggered by an acute viral infection. "Stomach flu", mononucleosis, and others have been anecdotally linked to the onset of the condition, but no systematic study has proven a link.
Gastroparesis can be diagnosed with tests such as x rays, manometry, and gastric emptying scans. Treatment includes dietary changes (low-fiber and low-residue diets, as well as, in some cases, restrictions on fat and/or solids), oral medications such as Metoclopramide (Reglan, Maxolon, Clopra), Cisapride (Propulsid), Erythromycin (E-Mycin, Erythrocin, Ery-Tab, EES)], adjustments in insulin injections for people with diabetes, a jejunostomy tube, parenteral nutrition, implanted gastric neurostimulators ("stomach pacemakers"), or botulinum toxin. (Viagra increases blood flow and is being used by some practitioners to stimulate the GI tract in Diabetic Gastroparesis)
The clinical definition for gastroparesis is based solely on the emptying time of the stomach and not on other symptoms, and severity of symptoms does not necessarily correlate with the severity of gastroparesis. Therefore, some patients may have marked gastroparesis with few, if any, serious complications.
Primary complications of gastroparesis include: