gastroparesis and diabetes

Gastroparesis and Diabetes: What You Need to Know

You might be at a higher risk for a disease called gastroparesis if you have diabetes. What do gastroparesis and diabetes have in common and why are they connected?

What is Gastroparesis?

Gastroparesis is a disease of the stomach muscles or nerves. It’s a slow emptying of the stomach that happens after your stomach muscles stop working properly to grind food. The most common disease that can cause gastroparesis is diabetes mellitus, which damages the nerves that control the stomach.

Other causes of gastroparesis can include imbalances of minerals in your blood like potassium, calcium, or magnesium; medications you take; and thyroid disease.


Gastroparesis Symptoms

The symptoms of gastroparesis are extremely uncomfortable. If you are experiencing the following symptoms, talk to your doctor.

  • Nausea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating
  • Feeling full after a few bites
  • Heartburn
  • Weight loss

What is the Connection with Diabetes?

As stated above, gastroparesis and diabetes have a direct link to each other. Gastroparesis is more common among people who have high blood sugar levels for a long period of time. If high blood sugar levels continue for long periods of time, it can cause damage to the blood vessels that supply your nerves and organs the nutrition and oxygen they need to work properly.

Among the nerves that become damaged are the vagus nerve and the digestive tract. Issues with both of these are linked to gastroparesis and diabetes. According to a study published by The Medscape Journal of Medicine, of those with type 1 diabetes, about 27 to 58 percent have gastroparesis.   For those with type 2 diabetes, about 30 percent have gastroparesis.

Some of the main symptoms of gastroparesis and diabetes are extremely common, such as heartburn and nausea. This makes it hard to diagnose gastroparesis,.


Gastroparesis and Diabetes Treatment

It’s important to monitor your diet closely with both gastroparesis and diabetes. For those with gastroparesis, avoid foods that are high in fiber and high-fat since they take longer to digest.

Some of the following might be recommended for people with gastroparesis:

  • Take insulin more often
  • Change your type of insulin
  • Take insulin after meals
  • Check blood glucose levels frequently after eating

If you think you may have gastroparesis, talk to your doctor about the proper treatment.