Gastrointestinal Complications in Diabetes

Gastrointestinal (GI) disorders are common among all people, including those affected by diabetes. At some point in any patient's life, the chances that he or she will develop a GI tract problem, be it peptic ulcer disease, gallstones, irritable bowel syndrome, food poisoning, or some other malady, are extremely high. 75% of patients visiting diabetes clinics will report significant GI symptoms. The entire GI tract can be affected by diabetes from the oral cavity and esophagus to the large bowel and anorectal region. Common complaints may include dysphagia, early satiety, reflux, constipation, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Many patients go undiagnosed and under-treated because the GI tract has not been traditionally associated with diabetes and its complications.

Both acute and chronic hyperglycemia can lead to specific GI complications. Diabetes is a systemic disease that may affect any organ systems, and the GI tract is no exception. As with other complications of diabetes, the duration of the disorder and poor glycemic control seem to be associated with more severe GI problems.

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