There is an average of about five million people in the United States living with the debilitating and sometimes life-threatening symptoms of gastroparesis, the need for better research, support, and treatments is ongoing. During the month of August, the International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD) will join with patients, family members, and caregivers to increase public awareness about gastroparesis with “Education” – the theme for Gastroparesis Awareness Month 2019.
IFFGD President, Ceciel T. Rooker commented “When there is an absence of reliable educational material for chronic GI disorders such as gastroparesis, it often leads to a lack of understanding which can lead to misdiagnosis and misguided treatments. Educating the ones around us is just the first step to increase public awareness so that the needs of the patient community can be met.”
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, 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 raise awareness by providing educational resources to help others understand the affects that gastroparesis has on patients” said Rooker.
In recognition of the fourth annual Gastroparesis Awareness Month, IFFGD will launch a campaign using #GPeducation to increase public knowledge about gastroparesis. By coming together to help educate individuals in our own communities, we are not only supporting those who suffer from the effects of gastroparesis, but we also bring hope for the future,” said Rooker. During Gastroparesis Awareness Month, we invite you to share reliable resources and what you wish you knew before being diagnosed with gastroparesis using #GPeducation.