Stomach Virus Won't Go Away? You May Have Developed Viral Gastroparesis!

Stomach viruses are definitely not enjoyable, particularly when every member of the household comes down with it at the same time or one right after the other. As astonishing as this may sound, some people develop a longer-term problem with their digestive systems following a stomach virus. Enter viral gastroparesis. Gastroparesis is a medical condition that affects 2.4% of the population, so it's not as uncommon as you may think.

Gastroparesis essentially means the stomach muscles are paralyzed and, therefore, cannot empty the stomach contents into the intestinal tract. If you or a family member has what seems to be a prolonged bout of a stomach virus, it's important to get tested for gastroparesis so the proper treatment protocol can begin. Here's what you need to know. 

What are the symptoms of gastroparesis? 

Symptoms of gastroparesis include the same types of symptoms of a common stomach virus, such as vomiting, nausea, acid reflux, and abdominal bloating and pain. However, several of the key differences are the following: 

  • vomiting several hours after eating something
  • little to no diarrhea
  • blood sugar level changes
  • weight loss 
  • malnutrition

Since the stomach contents are not emptying into the intestinal tract, the body does not receive any nutrition from the foods that are ingested. The role of the stomach is to break down foods so the large and small intestines are able to absorb nutrients from the foods. Without the process of digestion being completed, weight loss and malnutrition can be extreme.

How is it treated? 

Now that you understand the ramifications of this conditions, it should be quite clear that you will need to start treatment as soon as possible so your health does not decline further. Treatment for viral gastroparesis begins with total parenteral nutrition, which is basically nutritional supplementation given via infusions. This type of infusion is done intravenously, which means the nutrients and substances your body needs in order to survive will be given to you through your veins.

Depending on the severity of your gastroparesis, you may need to schedule daily visits to an infusion clinic or at least get infusions several times a week, which will be determined by your physician and nutritionist. Total parenteral nutrition infusions will be ongoing until your viral gastroparesis resolves. If your problems continue, your doctor may order a stomach tube to be surgically implanted in your intestinal tract. To reduce your risks of this occurring, it is crucial that you follow all the instructions given to you by your doctor, your infusion team, and your nutritionist. 

For more information about infusions, contact a clinic like Idaho Arthritis Center.