One of the main symptoms of gastroparesis is bloating, a feeling of fullness or tightness in the belly.

Gastroparesis is a condition in which your stomach empties into your small intestine more slowly than it should. This is called delayed gastric emptying.

Gastroparesis can be triggered by a viral infection, a chronic disease such as diabetes, certain medications, or after a medical procedure such as bariatric surgery interrupts your digestion. It’s thought to be caused by disrupted nerve signals in the stomach.

Besides bloating, gastroparesis also has other symptoms such as:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • abdominal pain
  • feeling full all the time, even before you eat

Let’s go over ways to treat bloating caused by gastroparesis, including medications and diet.

When you have gastroparesis, your stomach muscles don’t contract properly to help move food along the digestive tract. As a result, food empties from the stomach to the small intestine too slowly, or not at all.

If food sits undigested in the stomach for too long, the stomach can swell. It might feel full, tight, or swollen. This is referred to as bloating.

Gastroparesis also slows down your body’s digestion, which can lead to constipation. Excess gas released in the large intestine by gut bacteria and the buildup of feces in your intestines can also cause a feeling of bloating.

Gastroparesis bloating can be managed with diet, lifestyle changes, and medications that help the stomach empty its contents while ensuring you’re getting the right nutrition from your diet.

Home remedies

A doctor may suggest trying home remedies and diet changes before trying medications because medications can cause unwanted side effects.

Gastroparesis diet

A dietitian can suggest foods that your body can digest more easily and ensure you get the proper nutrition. The most important foods included in a gastroparesis diet are high-protein foods and easy-to-digest vegetables.

Examples include:

  • eggs
  • peanut butter
  • vegetable and fruit purees
  • white bread

To reduce gastroparesis bloating, you’ll want to avoid foods high in fat or fiber or only eat them in small amounts. Examples of foods to avoid include:

  • beans
  • broccoli
  • cheese
  • heavy cream
  • excess oil

Eat small meals

Eating five to eight smaller meals throughout the day can help keep your stomach from getting too full and bloated.

Avoid lying down after a meal

Gravity helps aid digestion and stomach emptying. Staying upright might help ease the feeling of bloating and fullness after you eat. You should try to avoid lying down or hunching over for a few hours after eating a meal.

Avoid carbonated beverages

Carbonated, or fizzy, beverages contain gas blended with water. The extra gas can easily make you feel more bloated, so it’s best to avoid these types of drinks.

Light physical activity

Light physical activity after eating, such as a casual walk, can help your stomach empty faster and reduce bloating.

Medical treatment

Medications that improve gastric emptying may help with bloating from gastroparesis. These include:

If medications and dietary changes don’t offer relief, a minimally invasive surgical procedure might be recommended to loosen the ring of muscle controlling the flow of stomach contents to the small intestine.

A device called a gastric electric stimulator may also be implanted into your body. The device uses mild electrical pulses to stimulate the muscles in your digestive tract and speed up gastric emptying.

If you have gastroparesis bloating, avoid the following medications:

  • diarrhea medications, such as loperamide (Imodium), which decreases muscle contractions in the digestive tract and lists constipation and stomach pain as side effects
  • opioids such as codeine or morphine, which can cause constipation
  • fiber supplements, such as Citrucel and Metamucil, which can fill up the stomach and slow down gastric emptying

Ask a doctor if any other medications you’re taking could be slowing down stomach emptying.

The first step in managing gastroparesis is to treat the underlying cause, if known. For example, gastroparesis caused by diabetes can be treated with medications for managing blood sugar.

A doctor may prescribe medications to control nausea and vomiting. They may also recommend that you make a few changes to your diet and lifestyle.

Tips for managing gastroparesis symptoms include:

  • avoiding large meals
  • avoiding solid foods high in fat or fiber
  • chewing foods well
  • avoiding raw or uncooked fruits and vegetables
  • eating a liquid diet
  • drinking water during meals
  • not lying down for about 2 hours after eating

Bloating is a common and uncomfortable symptom of gastroparesis. For some people, changes like eating small meals and limiting your fiber and fat intake can help your digestion and in turn reduce your bloating and fullness. For others, medications and surgery might be necessary to ease symptoms.

Speak with a doctor if dietary changes and medications fail to control bloating and other symptoms of gastroparesis.