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What is Digestive Tract Paralysis?
Digestive Tract Paralysis (DTP) refers to the inconsistent movement of certain parts of the digestive tract which disrupts the operation of the gut. During an episode, the muscles that normally facilitate movement of food through the digestive tract are not able to perform – this can lead to either gastroparesis (partial paralysis of the stomach) or intestinal pseudo obstruction (paralysis of the intestines).
When food is not able to properly pass through your system, it can start to ferment in your stomach which can lead to bacteria growth. It is possible for your food to harden while in your stomach causing an obstruction – this is called a bezoar.
What causes it?
A few things can cause DTP. Damage to the vagus nerve which regulates the digestive system can prevent the stomach and intestine from functioning properly. Uncontrolled diabetes, certain medications, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis can also cause DTP.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of digestive tract paralysis may seem like another ailment so make sure to get a diagnosis from your doctor.
How do you treat it?
There are a few ways you can diagnose DTP and all include looking at your gastrointestinal tract either through an endoscope, a pill, an ultrasounds, or using liquid/food that contains scannable material such as radioisotope.
While there is medication that can help treat symptoms, you can also change your eating habits to help alleviate symptoms. For example, having smaller meals will help the digestion process. Fats and fiber may be avoided because fats can impede digestion while fiber can slow it down. Managing stress can also help, as the condition can be triggered by stress.
August is Digestive Tract Paralysis Awareness Month so wear spring green and yellow to show your support!