Diabetic Stomach Pains: Listen to Your Body

Stomach aches and other gastrointestinal pains can be signs of a bigger problem. One such problem for diabetics is gastroparesis, or delayed stomach emptying, a digestive problem in which the the stomach cannot empty itself of food normally. It is most commonly found in people with type 1 diabetes but can also occur in those with type 2 diabetes.

This condition is caused by damage to the vagus nerve, which helps regulate the digestive system. If the vagus nerve is damaged, the muscles of the stomach and intestine are not able to work properly and food is not processed and pumped through the intestines.

Symptoms of Gastroparesis

  • Heartburn or reflux
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting undigested food
  • Poor control of blood sugar
  • Feeling full quickly when eating
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Poor appetite and weight loss

Health Risks

When food is not processed, it may stay in the stomach for a long time and spoil, which can lead to bacteria growth. Food in the stomach can also harden and turn into a lump. These lumps can cause blockage and keep food from moving down into the small intestine.

When living with diabetes, it is important to regulate blood sugar levels, but gastroparesis can make it difficult. This is because when the food finally leaves the stomach and enters the small intestine it causes a rise in blood sugar levels, which can make it difficult to control blood sugar levels consistently. In more severe cases of gastroparesis, daily vomiting has been known to occur.

Prevention

When trying to minimize the risk of gastroparesis, people with diabetes should try to control their blood sugar levels by making small changes to their routine. For instance, you may want to change when and how often you use insulin and check your blood sugar levels more often.

Furthermore, some medications like antidepressants, high blood pressure drugs, or other drugs used in treating diabetes may increase the risk of gastroparesis. It is for this reason that it is important to talk with your doctor about any stomach discomfort you may experience and whether your current medications could be the cause of gastroparesis or other complications.

Treatment

Gastroparesis is a long-lasting condition like diabetes. Treatment usually does not cure gastroparesis, but it can control it and keep it in check.

One of the best ways to help control the symptoms of gastroparesis is to vary when and how you eat. For example, instead of having three large meals a day, you can eat six small meals. This limits the amount of food in your stomach and will make it easier for food to leave your stomach.

Changing the types of foods you eat can also help with digestion. When struggling with gastroparesis, liquids and low-residue foods are highly recommended. You should also avoid foods high in fat and fiber because they may slow down the digestive process.

Source: WebMD
Photo: Pexels

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