What causes early satiety? We will be examining this today.
Satiety is the state of being perfectly satisfied, and in this case, with food. So what then is early satiety? Early satiety happens when one is filled just after taking a little portion of one’s meal. With early satiety, you find out that you are unable to finish your usual size of a meal.
Certain factors influence what makes each individual’s meal size. These include sex, age, height, genes, weight, frequency of meals, activity level, etc. Women tend to experience this more than men.
You might not want to consider early satiety as a major problem unless there are other symptoms. If this continues, it is unhealthy as it can result in starvation, nutrient deficiency and slow healing of a wound. Early satiety can also signal such serious medical problems like diabetes, cancer, and ulcer. When ignored, there is a tendency for low blood count and internal bleeding to result from such conditions as mentioned.
Before we delve into what causes early satiety, let’s briefly look at the process of digestion.
The process of digestion
Digestion starts in the mouth with chewing and continues to the large intestine. Digestive enzymes and stomach acid work on the food even as the process known as peristalsis moves the food along the stomach, small intestine and large intestines.
If there is an interruption in peristalsis, food may be retained in the stomach and this may lead to early satiety.
So, when do you consult a doctor?
If early satiety persists, you should consult your doctor. The following symptoms should prompt an urgent visit to the doctor:
It is now time to examine what causes early satiety.
Causes of early satiety
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS): IBS is a disorder of the large intestine, which may cause or show such symptoms as bloating, constipation, stomach cramps, diarrhea, and gas. Note that these symptoms can vary at times and keep recurring.
- Gastroparesis: This is a condition characterized by a delay in emptying the bowels. Because food stays longer than necessary in the stomach, one may attain satiety too early. While gastroparesis is the commonest cause of early satiety, the condition itself is often caused by diabetes, intestinal surgeries, Parkinson’s disease, anorexia, or multiple sclerosis. Gastroparesis presents such symptoms as nausea, bloating, loss of appetite, heartburn, depression as well as anxiety.
- Cancer: The presence of cancer, as well as the treatment, also cause early satiety. In fact, early satiety is among the 10 most prominent symptoms of cancer. Scientific research insinuates that when early satiety is caused by cancer, the patient may also experience weight loss, dry mouth, anorexia, weakness, and tiredness.
Having examined what causes early satiety, let us look at how to diagnose early satiety.
Diagnosing early satiety
The following are the initial steps the doctor would take to ascertain if you have symptoms of early satiety:
- Test your blood sample for blood sugar level and blood count.
- Check medical history.
- Conduct a physical examination.
On ascertaining the symptoms of early satiety, the following exercises may be conducted too:
- Gastric emptying scintigraphy.
- Gastric emptying breath test (to decipher the speed of excretory product).
- X-ray scan to confirm signs of gastroparesis in a process called upper gastrointestinal series (UGI).
- Close examination of the digestive tract in a process called upper endoscopy.
- Stool test for internal bleeding.
How to treat early satiety
There is no fixed treatment option for early satiety due to the diversity of causes. The following options are however available for mild early satiety:
- Avoid overconsumption of fat to aid quick digestion.
- Use stimulants to increase your appetite.
- Eat smaller meals but at more intervals.
- Eat liquid or purée foods.
- Use drugs such as anti-emetics to relieve stomach discomfort.
- Consult a dietician for an expert guide on nutritional needs.
If early satiety is life-threatening, the patient may have to undergo minor operations like:
- Feeding tubes to pass liquid food through the nose to the stomach.
- Gastric electrical stimulation to control nausea and prevent vomiting due to the electric pulses released.
- For an extreme case, a feeding tube may need to convey nutrients directly to a part on the small intestine known as jejunum. The process is called jejunostomy.
- Total parenteral nutrition (TPN) with a catheter to carry liquid food via a vein in the chest.
- Take a brief overview of early satiety: When early satiety goes and comes, the body may lack adequate nutrients and calories such as folic acid, calcium, protein, vitamin B-12, and iron. The insufficiency of nutrients and calories may lead to low energy, fatigue, weight loss, or impaired
organ andbrain function.
Having known what cases early satiety, how then can it be prevented?
Preventing early satiety
- Identify the foundational cause.
- Prepare your foods the way it makes it more appetizing to your taste.