Stomach paralysis

Erica Davila's stomach became paralyzed by a rare condition. But a pacemaker-like device brought her appetite back so she could lead a normal life. 

Davila has had stomach problems her whole life. She was misdiagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome.  The pain and nausea became so bad she had to leave her job as an operating room nurse. 

Davila says, "It's a horrible way to live. I felt like I couldn't be myself and didn't have an interest in food." 

Finally she met Dr. Terilyn Scott-Winful, a gastroenterologist at Baylor Scott & White Health, who diagnosed gastroparesis, a rare condition caused by a nerve dysfunction, that results in stomach paralysis.  The most severe cases require a feeding tube, an option Erica and her doctor hoped to avoid.

Scott-Winful says, "So with gastroparesis, you have delayed accommodation so food can't be distended and made room for, and then it's not being ground up and pushed out." 

Medication and diet therapy didn't work, so a gastric stimulator, similar to a pacemaker for the heart, was inserted into Erica's stomach.  It sends an electrical impulse to jump start the stomach muscles.

Scott-Winful says,"And it kind of gives the stomach a shock to try to get those nerves shocked to give the muscles the impulse to be able to move and to contract, to push food through the stomach." 

Davila says, "Life is far better now. I'm able to eat more than I'm used to." 

And practice martial arts with her husband, Brian.

Scott-Winful says, "Pretty much, back on the mat, fighting. Erica is a fighter for sure."

People with gastroparesis are encouraged to eat a modified diet that is low in sugar, fiber, dairy, and wheat.


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