By Melissa Adams VanHouten, Gastroparesis Advocate
August is Gastroparesis Awareness Month, and we invite you to unite with us as we shed light on our illness and promote better understanding and proper care.
Gastroparesis literally means “paralysis of the stomach.” It is a condition in which food passes from the stomach to the intestines at a delayed rate. Those in our community experience often debilitating symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, pain, bloating, extreme weight fluctuations, and GERD. We face serious and sometimes life-threatening complications such as digestive tract blockages, esophageal damage, erratic blood sugars, infections, chronic fatigue, dehydration, and malnutrition. Currently, there are no consistently safe, reliable, and effective treatments, and there is no cure.
The most common known cause of gastroparesis is diabetes, which accounts for about one-third of the cases. Other known causes include neurologic and connective tissue disorders, surgical damage, and direct injury to the Vagus nerve. Most cases of gastroparesis, however, are labeled “idiopathic,” meaning there is no known or identifiable cause.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) estimates more than 5 million of us live with gastroparesis; yet our illness remains little-known and little-understood. And so, this August, we invite you to join our #RealGP campaign, which seeks to dispel common myths surrounding gastroparesis and illustrate the true physical, mental/emotional, and financial impact of this illness upon patients and their loved ones.
You can also help by asking your congressional representatives to cosponsor H.R. 3396, the Functional Gastrointestinal and Motility Disorders Research Enhancement Act of 2019: www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/3396. This bill would expand research and promote education and awareness of gastroparesis and other functional gastrointestinal and motility disorders which so greatly affect the lives of millions.
Please join us in lifting our voices in a united front to raise awareness and bring about much-needed change!
For additional information, please visit the Gastroparesis: Fighting for Change website at www.curegp.org or contact the International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD) at www.iffgd.org or the Association of Gastrointestinal Motility Disorders (AGMD) at www.agmdhope.org.
Editor’s note: True Help, a division of Allsup, helps individuals living with gastroparesis and other disabilities apply for SSDI and return to work.