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Doctor aims to raise awareness for gastroparesis

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Posted at 2:16 PM, Aug 12, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-12 15:16:13-04

SARASOTA, Florida — It is a rare stomach condition that affects less than 200,000 Americans each year, and now, there is a doctor in Florida who is spreading awareness it in a sweet way.

There are certainly worse ways to start your day than with a Yoder’s pie. But gastroenterologist Dr. Marc Bernstein had to earn his.

The pie challenge is meant to raise awareness for gastroparesis.

"Which is a rare but chronic, debilitating disease," said Dr. Bernstein, a digestive health specialist in Florida.

It affecting fewer than 200,000 people a year.

"Gastro - stomach and paresis is partial paralysis, essentially. So it's slow or nonexistent digestion in the stomach" he said.

Dr. Bernstein said though the number of confirmed cases is low, that doesn't mean more people don't have it: They may just not know it.

He hopes taking a pie to the face will change that.

"This started with a young man who was struggling with the disease and noticed how the als challenge kind of caught a lot of people's attention and wanted to do the same thing," Bernstein said.

So he brought it to Florida Digestive Health Specialists in Sarasota to help people who have gastroparesis, whether or not they realize it.

"It's a debilitating disease and people who suffer from it do have a lot of decreased quality of life, so if we can get the word out to talk to your primary care doctor or gastroenterologist or even nutritionists or dietitians," said Bernstein.

To learn about diet changes you can make or meds you can take, but there's no cure for gastropareisis.

"We try to make the changes we can to increase quality of life," he said.

Dr. Bernstein says make sure you have a gastroenterologist you trust. Symptoms of the disease can include nausea, vomiting and even malnutrition.