For the up to five million people in the United States living with the debilitating and sometimes life-threatening symptoms of gastroparesis, the fight to make their voices heard for better research, support, and treatments is ongoing. During the month of August, the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD) will join with patients, family members, and caregivers to “Make Patient Voices Heard” – the theme for Gastroparesis Awareness Month 2018.
“Patients and those closest to them are uniquely able to speak to the burdens posed by life with a chronic digestive disorder like gastroparesis and the needs of those affected,” said IFFGD president, Ceciel T. Rooker. “In order for advances in the diagnosis, treatment, and care of gastroparesis to be made, their voices must be heard.”
Gastroparesis is a chronic digestive condition characterized by the presence of certain, life-limiting symptoms that persist or reoccur long-term together with slowed emptying of the stomach. Symptoms usually occur during or after a meal and can appear suddenly or gradually. Symptoms typically include:
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Dry heaves
- Stomach fullness after a normal-sized meal
- Early fullness and the inability to finish a meal
Additional symptoms may occur, such as bloating, stomach discomfort or pain, loss of appetite, and heartburn, among others. Left unmanaged, gastroparesis can lead to additional complications, including severe dehydration, obstruction, poor insulin control in individuals with underlying diabetes, and malnutrition due to poor absorption of nutrients.
Despite the burden posed on those affected, gastroparesis remains a little-known condition, and many of those affected face diagnostic delays, suffering an average of five years before receiving the answers and care they need. During this time, patients may experience multiple misdiagnoses, undergoing numerous hospitalizations and diagnostic tests. “The search for answers often leaves those affected feeling like they have been forgotten by the medical, research, and governmental communities,” said Rooker.
Established by IFFGD in 2016, Gastroparesis Awareness Month takes place every year during the month of August. During this time and throughout the year, IFFGD brings attention to this often-misunderstood condition and partners with patients to make their voices heard around the world. “Through Gastroparesis Awareness Month, we can coalesce and amplify the voices of patients who may not otherwise be heard,” said Rooker.
In recognition of the third annual Gastroparesis Awareness Month, IFFGD will launch a campaign to elevate the voices of patients – their stories, needs, and hopes for the future – using the hashtag #HearMeGP. “By coming together, patients, their family members and friends, and other supporters can raise the voice of the gastroparesis community,” said Rooker. During Gastroparesis Awareness Month, we invite you to share your gastroparesis story and make your voice heard with #HearMeGP.