VOL. 18 NO. 4 Fall 2000


Diabetes Can Affect Your Stomach

Diabetes can affect the way your gastrointestinal (GI) tract works. Your GI tract is the group of organs responsible for the ingestion, digestion, and absorption of food as well as the elimination of unwanted waste products. Your GI tract includes your mouth and throat, stomach, and intestines (the long tube connecting the stomach with the rectum). Your liver and pancreas are also considered part of your GI tract and can be affected by diabetes.

Because diabetes can affect many parts of your GI tract in many different ways, symptoms may vary greatly, which often leads to difficulty in diagnosing and treating the specific problem(s). The symptoms that you may experience when diabetes affects your GI tract include pain on swallowing, soar throat, heartburn, fullness, bloating, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation. In addition to these symptoms, GI problems can definitely cause your blood glucose levels to fluctuate even when your diet, exercise, and therapeutic regimens are followed consistently.

Although there are many different types of therapies for treating GI-related problems, it is extremely important to get your blood glucose under good control. Poor blood glucose control can worsen all of the problems associated with diabetes and make your GI symptoms worse. If you answer "yes" to any of the following questions, you should discuss possible GI problems with your health care provider.

1. Do you have persistent problems with constipation or diarrhea?

2. Have you lost weight unexpectedly?

3. Do you feel full when you have not eaten very much or soon after you start eating a meal?

4. Do you frequently feel bloated after eating?

5. Do you frequently have heartburn pains?

6. Is it painful to swallow food at any time?

7. Do you have unusual pain in your throat and/or stomach area?

8. Are your blood glucose values unexpectedly high or low after meals and between widely spaced meals?

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Copyright 2000American Diabetes Association
Updated 10/00
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