The combination of gastroparesis and diabetes can be a scary one, and let’s face it; the symptoms of this condition will make you down right miserable. It becomes difficult and painful to eat, and vomiting, diarrhea, and heartburn are just a few of the daily symptoms you can expect. It can be difficult to understand why or how diabetes can cause such horrible stomach problems. Believe it or not, gastroparesis and diabetes are connected when blood sugar is not controlled well and hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) occurs frequently.

According to the American Diabetes Association, hyperglycemia related to diabetes can cause neuropathy, which is nerve damage. This nerve damage is just one of many extensive complications that can occur from undiagnosed or poorly controlled blood sugar. When the neuropathy (nerve damage) occurs in the stomach, this causes extremely slow digestion, which is known as diabetes gastroparesis.

Diabetes related gastroparesis is an extremely painful condition that can make you feel like you have a horrible stomach flu that you cannot get rid of. If you have diabetes, and are experiencing continuous stomach flu like symptoms, or you get sick frequently, contact your physician immediately. You may very well be suffering from gastroparesis and diabetes.


What are the Symptoms of Diabetes Gastroparesis?


According to the National Digestive Diseases Clearinghouse (NDDIC), diabetes gastroparesis symptoms can include:

  • Weight Loss
  • Throwing up food that has not digested
  • Little to no appetite
  • Heartburn and/or reflux
  • Diarrhea or excessive loose stools
  • Becoming full after eating a small amount of food
  • Constant or frequent nausea, especially after eating or drinking
  •  Abdominal spasms and/or stomach/intestinal bloating or gassiness
  •  Increased or irregular/difficult to control blood sugar levels


As you can see, these symptoms can very easily be mistaken for the stomach flu or food poisoning. However, if you have been diagnosed with diabetes and you are suffering from these symptoms, contact your doctor immediately. These symptoms can be a sign of uncontrolled or poorly controlled blood sugar, which is leading to complications. Without treatment, diabetes related complications can become fatal.


How is Gastroparesis Diabetes Diagnosed?


Based on information from the National Diabetes Association, gastroparesis diabetes diagnoses are confirmed by one or several of these tests:

  • Barium X-ray
  • Beefsteak Meal (with Barium)
  • Blood Tests
  • Gastric Manometry
  • Ultrasound
  • Radioisotope Gastric-emptying Scan
  • Upper Body Endoscopy


It is possible that your physician may order and perform one or more of these diagnostic tests. You may also be referred to a specialist, your local hospital, or gastroenterology clinic to have these tests performed. Your physician may also recommend that you have a consultation with a specialist in the gastroenterology field to confirm the diagnosis of gastroparesis and diabetes.


What is the Treatment for Diabetes Gastroparesis?


According to the International Diabetes Association, there are several treatments for diabetes gastroparesis. However, the treatment will depend on how severe the gastroparesis is at the time of diagnosis. Primary treatment will consist of getting your blood sugar controlled well and eliminating hyperglycemia. This can be done by increasing insulin dosage, having you take insulin more frequently, switching the times of your injections, or a combination of these. Treatment will also include stringent monitoring of blood sugar levels. Other treatment possibilities are oral medications and a strict diet. If the diabetes and gastroparesis is severe enough, hospitalization and feeding through a stomach tube or IV may be temporarily necessary.


What is the Diet for Diabetes and Gastroparesis?


After receiving a diagnosis of gastroparesis and diabetes, you will most likely be referred to a dietician to help you set up a proper diet and counsel you on food choices, food journaling, and keeping a blood sugar and symptoms log.

You may be asked to eliminate foods high in fiber and fat, as these are the most difficult to digest. You will probably need to follow a bland and easy to digest low-sugar diet. Depending on the severity of your condition, a liquid diet may be recommended for a period of time. After your condition is back under control, you will be able to return to a more normal diet. However, flare-ups may require you to revert back to a bland or liquid diet from time to time.