August is Digestive Tract Paralysis Awareness Month. If you have ever spent time in a hospital, you know that digestive tract paralysis is a common complication that often leads to hospital stays. In fact, if you have ever spent time in an ICU, you are likely to have experienced this paralyzing condition. Every year, more than 14,000 cases of digestive tract paralysis are reported in the United States. This does not include unreported cases, which may be even more prevalent. Digestive tract paralysis occurs when a part of the nervous system, which controls involuntary muscle movement, is damaged or sustains a severe injury. This can cause severe, or even complete, loss of muscle control. It can affect any area of the body that has a nerve supply, including the head and neck, chest, abdomen, or pelvis.
One of the lesser known autoimmune diseases, Guillain-Barre syndrome, is a disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks the peripheral nervous system (the nerves outside of the brain and spinal cord ). If a person is diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome, it means their immune system created antibodies that damaged their peripheral nerves and they lost the ability to control their muscles.
As part of National Digestive Diseases Awareness Month, we are highlighting several digestive tract conditions that affect millions of people in the United States and all over the world. Digestive tract paralysis, sometimes called paralytic ileus, is a potentially life-threatening medical condition that can develop suddenly. It has many possible causes, including injury to the nerves or muscles in the abdomen, Intestinal obstruction, Narrowing of the intestine, or Surgery. Digestive tract paralysis can occur anywhere along the digestive tract, from the mouth to the anus. It is possible to have paralytic ileus in more than one place. Common causes of paralytic ileus include Infections, Surgical procedures, Blood clots, Cancer, Stomach or intestinal blockage, Gallstones, and Nerve Damage.
Digestive tract paralysis (DTP) is paralysis of the muscles that help us eat and digest food. These muscles include the muscles in the throat, mouth, and stomach. When these muscles don’t work, it makes it hard to swallow food and drink. This can lead to serious problems like infections, dehydration, and malnutrition.
The symptoms of DTP include:
- Slurred speech
- Difficulty chewing and swallowing
- The feeling of food getting stuck in your throat
- Food or liquids coming up through your nose
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
This is a lot more common than you think. Digestive Tract Paralysis Awareness Month is a campaign to raise awareness about digestive tract paralysis. This is the second most common paralysis and affects about 1 in every 8000 people. What’s even more shocking is that it affects a lot more people than I think people realize. It can either be caused by surgery or an infection in the abdominal region. It can result in loss of bowel control or inability to eat or drink.