Gastroparesis is a disorder of the digestive system defined by the abnormal movement of food from the stomach to the small intestine. The inability of the stomach to properly digest food and empty itself of its contents gives rise to several gastrointestinal symptoms and complications. The cause of the condition is not always known, though experts link diseases, disorders, and medications, depending on the case. Several treatments exist in addressing complications and managing symptoms, and individuals with gastroparesis can lead normal, healthy lives.
In a healthy digestive system, food travels through the digestive tract by way of involuntary muscle contractions in the stomach that are controlled by the vagus nerve. These contractions break food down and move the contents of the stomach into the small intestine. There, the bloodstream absorbs the nutrients, water, and electrolytes of the digested food.
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