Gastrointestinal complications of type I diabetes mellitus are functional or organic changes that result from diabetes affecting every organ of the gastrointestinal tract.
Q: How do gastrointestinal tract complications affect diabetes?
A: Impaired function of individual digestive organs in diabetes can significantly influence level of diabetes compensation and vice versa. On the other side, unsatisfactory diabetes compensation can result in manifestation of digestive problems.
The most frequent (55 to 75%) and the most serious clinical complication is diabetic gastroparesis characterized by impaired evacuation and motility of the stomach and small intestine. Gastroparesis results in nausea, vomiting, early fullness after eating and constipation.
Treatment is with prokinetics. These oral medicines help motility and transport of food in the esophagus, stomach and intestines and improve sphincter function to keep food from going backwards.
Gastroesophageal reflux and heartburn are other complications in diabetes. These are treated with antacids and acid reducing medications.
Various autoimmune disease interfere with digestion. One connection between diabetes mellitus and the gastrointestinal tract can be celiac disease.1
What Are Gastro-Intestinal Complications Of Diabetes In Celiac Disease and/or Gluten Sensitivity?
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Perusicova J. Gastrointestinal complications in diabetes mellitus. Vnitri Lekarstvi. May 2004;50(5):338-43. ↩