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Most social activities in the United States are centered around eating. Business dinners, parties, holidays, going out with friends, church or school activities, and even just normal everyday activities always involve food in some form. So, what happens when a person can't eat? Not only does he/she suffer from major complications related to poor nutrition, but also loses the ability to even socialize in the normal manner.

Gastric motility disorders have a huge impact on ones life in many aspects. Two of the most serious GI motility disorders, gastroparesis (GP) and chronic intestinal pseudo-obstruction (CIP) are no exception. These conditions are not just inconveniences. They are disabling, and in some instances, can even be fatal. There are few treatment options available, and even those have complications and limited effectiveness. Little attention has been given to these illnesses for research due to lack of awareness of the need.

Some people suffer only from gastroparesis, while others battle CIP. However, it is not uncommon for people to develop both conditions in which case the entire GI tract does not function, making the already complicated conditions even harder to treat. The impact that these conditions have on ones life can be profound depending on severity and response to treatment. Most are able to manage with diet alteration and medication. However, many are disabled and unable to work. Malnutrition and dehydration are common leading to the need for feeding tubes or IV nutrition in severe cases. The effects of chronic malnutrition create problems on other parts of ones body resulting in additional complications. Hospitalization is often frequent in order to enhance nutritional status or treat symptoms.

One of the most frustrating aspects of dealing with Digestive Tract Paralysis (DTP) is the unpredictability of the condition(s). Each day may be filled with ups and downs and this makes it hard to plan or manage life. Although symptoms can be better controlled by following a specific diet or treatment protocol, often there is no explanation for a drastic change in symptoms from one moment to the next. They are poorly understood and often not believed by those not suffering. They are considered to be "silent illnesses," a term which refers to the fact that it is not always apparent on the outside how sick one actually is. This may lead to comments from others stating "but you don't look sick!" It is not uncommon for one to be accused of making them up or suffering from eating disorders.

G-PACT was founded on August 23, 2001 to help increase awareness of these conditions. Often patients are misdiagnosed for years and do not receive the proper treatment. When not treated properly, more complications develop and lack of belief and understanding is enhanced. In addition, lack of awareness inhibits the ability to seek funding for better research. Digestive Tract Paralysis is under-recognized, so therefore ignored by many medical companies, pharmaceutical companies, and the FDA. Drug approvals are slow, at best, and many drugs which have been effective are so easily pulled from the market due to unsubstantiated side effects in only a handful of people.

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Christine Gould
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Updated July 2011