Problems with the digestive system is very common within the EDS population, and dysfunction can occur for a number of reasons, and anywhere from the mouth through to the anus.
The most common problem is with motility, either in the stomach or intestines.
Dysmotility of the digestive tract, put simply, means that the body isn’t moving the food we eat through the digestive system in the correct way. This can cause an array of symptoms, many of which vary from person to person, and the but generally makes eating difficult for once reason or another (whether that be pain, sickness, constipation etc.), and the reason so many of us are reliant on feeding tubes or TPN to survive.
Gastroparesis (literally ‘paralysed stomach’) means that the food we eat orally is moved through the stomach at a much reduced pace due to the stomach not being able to empty itself in the normal way. Having food sitting in your stomach for long periods of time cause nausea and sickness, bloating, weight loss amongst other symptoms.
Again, there’s no cure to this condition, however there are multiple treatment options, beginning with dietary changes (such as when and how often you eat), increasing to medication if that doesn’t work (such as anti-sickness medication and medicines that speed up the rate of stomach emptying). Those with more severe gastroparesis have to turn to surgical options.
A stomach ‘pacemaker’, Botox injections, feeding tubes/TPN are all options before surgery is turned to as the last resort.
Intestinal dysmotility is the bowel being slow and sluggish at moving the contents through it because the nerve signals do not reach the muscles in the gut correctly. This leads to constipation (and sometimes faecal impaction which runs the risk of perforating the bowel; a surgical emergency). The protocol for treatment is the same as gastroparesis.