People with diabetes frequently experience bloating, nausea, and upper abdominal pain. These symptoms are mostly related to gastroparesis.

People with diabetes are at an increased risk of developing complications, so they are very cautious about their heart, kidney and eye health. But, unfortunately, at the same time, they often tend to overlook the stomach problems associated with diabetes though they may often experience gastrointestinal complications, which usually manifest as nausea, bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea and sometimes constipation. Between 30 50 per cent of people with long-standing diabetes (both type 1and type 2 diabetes) can develop gastroparesis. However, have you ever wondered what causes gastroparesis in people with diabetes?

Nerve dysfunction is the culprit here

People with diabetes usually develop gastroparesis due to nerve dysfunction. This nerve dysfunction or autonomic neuropathy is a known complication of diabetes. The dysfunction of the Vagus nerve that supplies the stomach leads to delayed emptying of the stomach, resulting in symptoms of gastroparesis.

Also read: Type 2 diabetes warning: Gastroparesis slows down digestion causing heartburn symptoms

Managing gastroparesis in people with diabetes

Managing gastroparesis in people with diabetes is very important. People with diabetic gastroparesis need optimal treatment to alleviate the symptoms because untreated gastroparesis can cause complications like frequent vomiting that can lead to dehydration and subsequently can cause weight loss. Thus, to improve the nutritional status of people with diabetic gastroparesis, early treatment is essential. Apart from prescription medicines, people with diabetes and gastroparesis should include the following dietary changes to improve their symptoms:

  • Eat small frequent meals ( 6 or more/ per day)
  • Avoid foods rich in fiber and fat
  • Avoid alcohol and carbonated drinks
  • Eat well-cooked food and maintain adequate hydration

Living with gastroparesis

Living with gastroparesis is not easy, especially for people with diabetes, as it can lead to unstable blood sugar levels with frequent episodes of hypo- and hyperglycemia. An abnormally slow emptying of the stomach may lead to hypoglycemia, consequently making it very difficult for a doctor to suggest the proper timing of an insulin shot. Therefore, people with diabetes need to pay attention to any unexplained episodes of high blood sugar and low blood sugar levels and consult with an endocrinologist or diabetologist to avoid developing further complications.

Effects of diabetic gastroparesis

The usual consequences seen in people with diabetes and gastroparesis are:

  • Malnutrition
  • Electrolyte imbalance
  • Fluctuating glucose levels
  • Esophageal ulcers due to recurrent vomiting

People with diabetes and gastroparesis may already have complications involving eyes, kidney and heart. Thus, people with diabetic gastroparesis warrant prompt treatment to improve gastric emptying and evaluation of co-existing disorders in order to avoid development of serious complications. (This article is authored by Dr Sayantan Ray, Consultant Endocrinologist, Apollo Clinic, Kolkata)

This post first appeared on The Health Site

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