Digestion and Dysmotility
The walls of the stomach are made from three different layers of muscle that allow it to churn food around and make sure it's mixed with the stomach's acidic digestive juices. The presence of hydrochloric acid in the stomach helps to kill bacteria that might be present. The stomach also produces the enzyme pepsin, which breaks down proteins.
In the gastric phase, food can stay in the stomach for up to several hours while numerous acids and enzymes are released, including the hormone gastrin. When the food has been churned into a creamy mixture known as chyme, the pyloric sphincter (an opening controlled by muscle) opens and chyme passes gradually into the small intestine.
Sometimes these problems can be caused by a viral stomach upset or certain medication such as antibiotics; in other cases there is no apparent cause. It can be caused by specific foods, alcohol or even the timing of the meal – various things can affect the correct functioning of the stomach.
In dysmotility, when the food remains in the stomach longer than normal, it can lead to a number of symptoms including nausea, reflux of stomach acid, bloating and even vomiting. In some cases, it can be so severe that it can really reduce a person’s lifestyle, affecting the food they eat and the activities they undertake. Interestingly, it is more common in women than men.
Initial treatment is to try and identify the cause; perhaps eating lighter, smaller meals more often and avoiding anything that could act as a trigger. Your doctor may prescribe a prokinetic; medication that helps to promote the emptying of the stomach.
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