Throughout the course of the 1960s and 1970s, the US military sprayed over 20 million gallons of Rainbow Herbicides over Vietnam, stripping the dense jungles that gave cover to the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army. As of 2015, over 300,000 veterans of Operation Ranch Hand had passed away from exposure to Agent Orange. The remaining survivors have a lifetime of diseases and conditions to cope with.
We at Woods and Woods, the Veteran’s Firm, have helped thousands of ex-military personnel with their applications for VA disability. We can also help with the appeal process if the VA has denied your claim. You might already be aware that you can get a VA rating for Type 2 Diabetes, but a secondary condition is diabetic gastroparesis. Understanding this condition will not only help you better manage your health but also increase your VA claim.
Woods and Woods has put together a mini-guide to Diabetic Gastroparesis to help you better understand this condition.
In this article about Gastroparesis from Agent Orange:
- What is the Definition of Diabetic Gastroparesis?
- Common Symptoms of Diabetic Gastroparesis
- Who Is At Risk for Developing Diabetic Gastroparesis?
- How Do Doctors Diagnose Diabetic Gastroparesis?
- What Are the Treatment Options for Diabetic Gastroparesis?
- Is There a Healthy Diet for Diabetic Gastroparesis?
- Medication for Diabetic Gastroparesis
- Other Complications from Diabetic Gastroparesis
- We are the Lawyers Supporting VA Disability Claims
What is the Definition of Diabetic Gastroparesis?
Gastroparesis is a chronic health condition that happens when a person’s stomach fails to contract as usual. The name takes its name from Ancient Greek gastro – matters relating to the stomach, and paresis – paralyzed. The condition severely impacts the normal transition of food from a person’s stomach to their small intestine.
During digestion, stomach contractions should routinely move food from the stomach to the small intestine where nutrients are absorbed. When a person has gastroparesis, this process is interrupted.
Common Symptoms of Diabetic Gastroparesis
The following symptoms often accompany this condition:
- Feeling full before a meal is finished
- Excessive flatulence
- Fluctuating Blood Sugar
- Weight Loss
- Severe Acid Reflux or GERD
- Night Sweats
Who Is At Risk for Developing Diabetic Gastroparesis?
Military personnel who served in Vietnam and were exposed to Agent Orange are at risk for developing gastroparesis. Former soldiers have made successful claims with a VA rating of up to 60%. If you have diabetes-related illnesses such as neuropathy or retinopathy and already receive a claim, you may be entitled to a higher VA claim.
Gastroparesis is more often found in women than it is in men by a 4:1 ratio. It is also more commonplace with people who have gone through surgeries in the stomach region and small intestine. These areas affect the vagus nerve, which regulates the muscles surrounding these areas of the body.
You might be personally at risk for diabetic gastroparesis if you have either type 1 or type 2 diabetes, although it is more prevalent in type 1 diabetes.
If you’ve had gastric operations, you might be at risk for the condition. Likewise, if you have had radiotherapy for cancer treatment close to your stomach and chest regions, you also might be at risk for diabetic gastroparesis.
PTSD and Diabetes Linked for VA Disability
Studies show that veterans with PTSD are more likely to have diabetes, and vice versa.
How Do Doctors Diagnose Diabetic Gastroparesis?
The most common test that doctors perform to check for diabetic gastroparesis is the barium X-ray. When you have a barium X-ray, you generally fast for 12 hours prior to your doctor’s appointment, where you will drink a barium shake which coats your stomach, making it visible on X-ray. The doctor will then perform an abdominal X-ray to check the contents of your stomach. A healthy person will have an empty stomach, whereas a person with gastroparesis will have remnants of food visible in their X-rays.
Other diagnostic methods include:
- Blood tests
- Biopsies on the small intestine or stomach
- Upper endoscopy, where the doctor passes a tube down your throat to look at your stomach’s lining
What Are the Treatment Options for Diabetic Gastroparesis?
While there is no cure for diabetic gastroparesis, there are a few ways of treating the condition.
It is important to manage your blood sugar levels if you have diabetic gastroparesis. You will need to check your blood sugar levels more often than non-gastroparesis sufferers. Your doctor might then advise that you change your timing and dosage of insulin.
There are also drugs available that can stimulate your stomach muscles into action again. You want to avoid sedatives and opiates, as they cause constipation and can exacerbate your already troublesome digestive system.
If a patient is having a hard time managing their blood sugar levels, a doctor might choose to fit them with a feeding tube. Intravenous nutrition is only used in severe diabetic gastroparesis cases, and often feeding tubes are only temporary fixes. These feeding tubes place nutrients instantly into the small intestine, bypassing the stomach, to keep blood levels at a stable level.
Is There a Healthy Diet for Diabetic Gastroparesis?
Food and Drinks to Avoid
A regimented diet is one of the most effective means of controlling gastroparesis. Because the condition is incurable, it is important to treat the symptoms: bloating, poor digestion, and excessive flatulence to name a few.
You will worsen your symptoms by eating fattening foods and fast foods, so eliminate these at once. Also, avoid spicy and acidic foods. Junk food has a terrible effect on diabetes as it contributes to rising blood sugar levels and high blood pressure. If you cannot avoid eating at a fast-food chain, most restaurants are now offering healthy options with published nutritional values available for you to refer to when ordering.
It’s a good idea to learn how to decipher nutritional values if you have not already done so because what you put into your body has a direct effect on your diabetes.
One common problem with diabetes is excessive flatulence or farting. You can partially control this with your diet, as many foods produce extra gas and bloating in your digestive system. Raw fruits and vegetables are especially hard on your digestive tract, so take extra care when eating these.
Limit high-fiber foods, which take longer for your body to digest, such as:
- Brussels sprouts
- Citrus Fruits
- Peanut Butter
- Whole Grain Cereal
Constipation is a common problem for diabetics, which can be an agonizing experience. Painful bloating often accompanies constipation, making this a perpetual cycle of gastric discomfort. To ease this, avoid foods such as white rice, red meat, fried foods, and alcohol.
It may be difficult to get 100% TDIU from one disability, but here one of our VA disability lawyers talks about common disabilities that add up to a 100% combined rating.
Foods to Eat and Drink
You can better control your gastroparesis with a diet consisting of cooked vegetables, rather than raw vegetables that are harder for your body to digest. Mushrooms and carrots are recommended vegetables for diabetics, as well as tomato sauce. You can also enjoy cooked fruits, such as applesauce without added sugars.
A nutritionist might advise a diabetic to stick to a low-fat diet, choosing lean cuts of meat such as skinless chicken and pork over beef, because beef is more difficult for your body to process. Fish is also an excellent choice for diabetics, as are eggs and tofu. It is also important to keep in mind how you prepare your meals. Grilling and baking your meat is a much healthier way to prepare your meat than frying, and far easier on your digestive tract.
You Will Need to Make Lifestyle Changes
To aid healthier digestion, you will also need to make a few extra changes to your lifestyle.
Going on a walk after eating a meal is a great way to help manage your blood sugar levels. It also helps to aid better digestion and contributes to weight loss. It’s also a good idea to cut down the size of your meals to smaller portions. Instead of the customary three meals per day, doctors recommend that you eat 5-6 smaller meals.
Make sure that you allow at least three hours after your last meal before lying down, otherwise, stomach acid could rise and cause severe discomfort. If you have a condition such as GERD, which commonly coexists with diabetic gastroparesis, this is an important rule to remember.
Here one of our VA disability lawyers goes over the questions Woods and Woods, The Veteran’s Firm, is often asked about veterans’ disability claims and appeals.
Medication for Diabetic Gastroparesis
Currently, Motilium or Metoclopramide is the only medication authorized by the Food and Drug Administration for controlling the symptoms of gastroparesis. However, doctors have been advised to prescribe the medication for a total of 12 weeks in only the most extreme cases. Patients who have taken Metoclopramide have reported side effects such as dystonia, which are painful, uncontrollable muscle spasms. Some patients may experience side effects similar to Parkinson’s Disease. Other side effects include nausea, insomnia, lack of energy, and severe headaches.
Antiemetics, or medications to prevent nausea and vomiting, are also effective drugs to treat the symptoms of gastroparesis. Dramamine is an over-the-counter medication and readily available for use. Doctors can prescribe Zofran or Ondansetron for more severe cases.
Other Complications from Diabetic Gastroparesis
If you have diabetic gastroparesis, you’re likely to suffer from a number of other health complications. If you’re prone to nausea and recurrent vomiting, you’re likely to experience dehydration at one point. Severe dehydration can lead to hospitalization and even problems with your kidneys.
Excessive vomiting can also lead to malnutrition, as the body loses required nutrients for everyday sustainability. Gastroparesis sufferers tend to be underweight because of undernourishment. You might also struggle to reach your daily calorie intake if you regularly feel full before you finish meals. This can cause you to lose weight without trying.
With gastroparesis, blood sugar levels can rise and fall substantially, making it difficult to keep in check. The constant traffic of food going through your stomach causes this variation. It is important to monitor your blood glucose levels, otherwise, your diabetes could take a turn for the worse.
As a diabetic, you’re at an increased risk for bezoars, which are solid masses of food that have collected in your gastrointestinal tract which hasn’t yet been digested. If you have a feeling of fullness or nausea, bezoars might be the cause. They can also lead to intestinal bleeding or gangrene, so it’s best to see a doctor if you suspect you might have one.
As you can see, diabetic gastroparesis severely impacts the quality of your life. It is nearly impossible to live a “normal” life with the wide-ranging complications that arise from the condition. If you are ex-military personnel suffering from any of these effects, it is time that you made a claim for VA disability.
Here, one of our VA disability lawyers talks about what we do when we appeal your case to the Veteran’s Administration.
We are the Lawyers Supporting VA Disability Claims
We at Woods and Woods, the Veteran’s Firm, are here to support you throughout the VA claims process. Over the course of the Covid pandemic, we’ve been adding lawyers to our team to better serve the thousands of disabled veterans seeking the VA disability benefits they justly deserve.
Our lawyers will walk you through the application process for applying for VA disability, step-by-step. Our experienced team has helped hundreds of veterans apply each week and are knowledgeable about all matters relating to VA disability claims.
It might be a daunting idea to start a VA disability claim for your diabetes-related illness, but please don’t put it off any longer. Disability cases can take years to settle with the VA, but Woods and Woods will stand by your side throughout the process.
Get in touch with Woods and Woods, the Veteran’s Firm, today. Our team is waiting to assist you and help make your VA claim today.
At Woods and Woods, the Veteran’s Firm, we’ve helped thousands of veterans with their VA disability applications and appeals. We’ve been adding staff and lawyers during the Covid pandemic to serve disabled veterans better in difficult times.
Call us today to discuss your VA disability appeal or your first application. The call is free and we won’t charge you a single fee until we win your case. We even pay for the postage for all of the documentation you send to our office. You can look for a VA disability attorney near you or call us and join the thousands of veterans living off of VA disability thanks to Woods and Woods.
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Frequently Asked Questions
It may be very hard to get a VA rating for diabetic gastroparesis, but it can be a symptom that can increase your rating for diabetes. Since the symptoms of gastroparesis can come and go so unexpectedly, it can be hard to prove that it is disabilitating. If digestion troubles and gas make your diabetes more difficult to live with, we’ll probably use those details to get you a higher VA rating for service-connected diabetes.
If you have enough different conditions or a few that are severe, you can get full 100% or TDIU VA disability for Agent Orange presumptive conditions. Many of those conditions can also qualify for A&A or SMC so you get additional money for help around the house and daily living. Call us and let’s go over your whole file to see what kind of ratings you deserve.