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Severe Gastroparesis

Osterhout Berger Daley > Disabling Conditions > Severe Gastroparesis

There are some conditions of the digestive system that can interfere with a person’s ability to function properly because they cause pain as one of the side symptoms. A disease like gastroparesis can cause several symptoms that can make it difficult to function, such as vomiting, severe pain, and general difficulties with digestion. Gastroparesis is a condition that can make it difficult to go to work and function normally, and unfortunately, there isn’t a cure for gastroparesis, so it can be difficult for people to return to work quickly. Anyone who has been diagnosed with gastroparesis should be aware of the difficulties that come with this condition and should know more about the condition and what they have to do to qualify for disability benefits through the Social Security Administration.

What Is Severe Gastroparesis?

Gastroparesis is a condition in which the muscles in the stomach don’t work at full capacity or at all, which means that the stomach never fully empties, causing a range of digestion problems. There are many possible reasons that someone might develop gastroparesis, such as a complication of diabetes or a surgery, but there are many instances where there isn’t a known cause.

Additionally, there are some medications, such as opioids, antidepressants, allergy medications, and high blood pressure medications, can cause a similar type of slowing of the stomach muscles. While these medications aren’t gastroparesis itself, they can make existing gastroparesis even worse.

Although it can be difficult to tell for sure what is causing gastroparesis, a damaged vagus nerve, which is the nerve that sends signals to the stomach to contract, could cause gastroparesis. One of the ways that this can come into play is if the vagus nerve is damaged by diabetes. The vagus nerve could also be damaged by surgery.

Additionally, there are certain risk factors to developing gastroparesis, including diabetes and surgery to the stomach or esophagus. Infection from a virus or an underactive thyroid could increase the likelihood of developing gastroparesis. Scleroderma, which is a connective tissue disease, can also be a risk factor. Nervous system diseases, such as Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis, can also lead to gastroparesis.

Symptoms of Severe Gastroparesis

There are several symptoms of gastroparesis that are very common, including nausea that leads to vomiting, abdominal pain and bloating, acid reflux, and loss of appetite. All of these symptoms make sense, too, when you think about how food is no longer being moved out of the stomach, causing the stomach to remain full. In fact, some people will also experience a feeling of fullness after eating just a few bites. Because of the vomiting and the difficulties that people with severe gastroparesis have with eating, some people will also experience dehydration and weight loss due to malnutrition.

It’s also possible to have changes in blood sugar levels because vomiting and a lack of desire and ability to eat causes drops in the amount of nutrients that the body is able to absorb. This can be a potentially serious complication, too, because the rapid changes in blood sugar levels can make existing diabetes worse.

Because much of the food that people eat is not digested properly, it’s also possible for people with severe gastroparesis to develop bezoars, which are hardened masses of undigested food in the stomach. This is especially true for people who go a long period of time without having their condition diagnosed and treated.

Treatment for Severe Gastroparesis

Treatment of severe gastroparesis can be difficult, but one of the first courses of action that many doctors will take is to try to treat the underlying condition that’s causing the gastroparesis. For instance, people who have diabetes might have gastroparesis caused by the diabetes, so it makes the most sense to work on getting the diabetes under control.

There are also lifestyle changes that people can make to increase the likelihood that they’ll be able lessen their symptoms even if they can’t get rid of gastroparesis. For instance, eating smaller amounts at a time can lessen the likelihood of some of the symptoms like acid reflux and vomiting. People with this disorder should also make sure that they thoroughly chew their food, and they should eat cooked fruits and vegetables instead of raw ones to make digestion easier.

Foods that are particularly fibrous, such as broccoli and oranges, are more likely to cause bezoars, so anything that the patient can do to avoid those types of foods should be done. Additionally, low-fat foods are best for most people, but small amounts of fat might be beneficial for people with can tolerate it. Another option is to try soups and pureed foods because they might be easier to swallow and digest. Taking a multivitamin can increase the amount of vitamins that a person actually absorbs, which can deter deficiencies that can lead to other types of diseases. Some doctors also suggest a walk or other types of mild exercise and avoidance of lying down directly after meals.

Disability Benefits for Severe Gastroparesis

Having severe gastroparesis can make many things in life more difficult, and some people might qualify for disability benefits through the Social Security Administration. In order to qualify, though, the applicant must meet a certain set of criteria, which is outlined in the Blue Book, a guide that’s used to determine who is eligible for benefits by comparing the person’s symptoms against a listing in the book.

One of the biggest criteria that must be fulfilled is a duration of at least 12 months. Because gastroparesis is incurable, this particular listing is often fairly easy to meet. What is more important to understand is that there isn’t a specific listing for gastroparesis in the Blue Book. But even though there isn’t a listing available specifically for gastroparesis, there are some other listings that gastroparesis symptoms can fall under.

For instance, some people are given treatment for gastroparesis that causes them to lose a significant amount of weight. If this happens, a person might qualify for disability benefits under the weight loss listing if the person’s BMI is under 17.5 and if their weight was recorded on two separate occasions within a six-month period of time and each recording was at least six months apart.

Another option to get disability benefits is to try to qualify under the residual functional capacity test, which is a test in which the person has to send in information on their limitations as described by their doctor. The Social Security Administration will then compare these limitations with the other types of work that the person has done to determine whether or not there’s work available for them to do. If there’s nothing that they can do, they’re more likely to meet the listing requirements and be seen as unable to work.

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