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Diabetes Alert: Halt Digestion Distress

Author: Teri Walsh

Diabetes Alert: Halt Digestion Distress
Reining In This Culprit Could Also Help Your Heart

If you’ve got diabetes and also have digestive discomfort–such as tummy pain, gas, bloating, heartburn, constipation, or diarrhea–don’t overlook this hidden cause: uncontrolled blood sugar.

When blood sugar levels aren’t well regulated, nerves throughout the gastrointestinal system may not function properly and can even be damaged, says James D. Wolosin, MD, a gastroenterologist and clinical instructor at the University of Tennessee residency training program in Jackson. Controlling glucose helps prevent more nerve damage and can help improve some tummy troubles, such as bloating, heartburn, and nausea. But doctors often overlook this connection, he says (Clinical Diabetes, Fall 2000).

This Plan Can Help

1. Work with your doctor for better blood sugar control. The big bonus: Good blood sugar control lowers your odds for heart disease and kidney problems too.

2. Try a new eating strategy. Smaller, more frequent meals can reduce bloating and heartburn. If constipation is a problem, increase your fiber intake by choosing more whole grains, fruits, and veggies. If diarrhea, stomach pain, or gas is bothering you, keep a food diary for a week, recording your food intake and symptoms.

3. Check your progress. If digestive problems persist, consult your doctor. In some cases, medication may help.