Understanding Semaglutides and Gastroparesis

Semaglutides are a class of drugs commonly prescribed to patients with type 2 diabetes. They work by reducing glucose production in the liver and increasing insulin secretion, which helps regulate blood sugar levels. However, one side effect of semaglutides that has become increasingly prevalent is gastroparesis. This condition causes delayed gastric emptying, leading to symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. In this blog post, we will explore how semaglutides cause gastroparesis and what steps can be taken to manage this condition.

How Do Semagultides Work?

When semaglutides are administered, they bind to glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptors in the pancreas and gastrointestinal tract. GLP-1 is a hormone that stimulates insulin secretion and inhibits glucagon release, leading to reduced glucose production in the liver. However, when GLP-1 receptors are activated in the stomach, they also slow down gastric emptying through several mechanisms.

How Do Semaglutides Affect Digestion?

Firstly, GLP-1 decreases the activity of smooth muscle cells in the stomach wall responsible for contracting and pushing food along the digestive tract. This results in a slower passage of food from the stomach into the small intestine. Secondly, it increases the tone of the pyloric sphincter – a ring-shaped muscle at the bottom of the stomach that controls entry into the small intestine – making it harder for food to pass through.

How Do Semaglutides Cause Gastroparesis?

These effects of semaglutides on gastric motility can lead to gastroparesis over time, especially if patients have pre-existing gastrointestinal conditions or take other medications that affect gastric emptying. Symptoms may include early satiety (feeling full after eating only a small amount), bloating, belching, heartburn, nausea with or without vomiting, and abdominal pain.

How Do You Manage Gastroparesis?

Patients may be advised to modify their diet by eating smaller, more frequent meals and avoiding high-fiber or fatty foods that take longer to digest. They may also need to avoid consuming liquids with meals, which can further slow gastric emptying. Medications may be prescribed in some cases.

Communicating With Your Healthcare Provider

It is important for patients taking semaglutides to discuss any symptoms of gastroparesis with their healthcare provider. In some cases, dosage adjustments or switching to a different medication may be necessary to alleviate symptoms. Patients should also disclose any other medications they are taking, as some drugs can interact with semaglutides and exacerbate gastroparesis.

Semaglutides are an effective treatment option for managing type 2 diabetes but can cause gastroparesis as a side effect. This condition should not be ignored, as it can cause significant discomfort and even lead to malnourishment if left untreated. Patients should work closely with their healthcare provider to manage symptoms through dietary modifications and medication adjustments when necessary. 

Contact a clinic like Gastro Health for more information about semaglutide treatment.