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Diabetic Complications: GI Problems

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There was a time when I had to stop in the middle of doing something with heaviness in my chest and a lump in my throat. I was taken to the emergency room five times in one year for the same reason. Every time I mistook my condition as a heart attack or angina since I have coronary artery disease. Sometimes I had to pull my vehicle on to the side of the freeway on my way home from work because I couldn't breathe. And other times I literally choked with lumpy feeling in my throat. After several visits to the hospital, doctors and tests I was diagnosed with diabetes induced gastroesophageal reflux disease. Personally, I like it to be called a "condition" just to make myself feel less diseased. I hate to use the word "disease" after every single condition I am diagnosed with but the truth of the matter is, this is what I have.

Whether or not a person is diabetic, GI problems are common in people age 30 and over. But a person with diabetes has added factors that lead to these problems such as physiological changes with autonomic neuropathy, hyperglycemia, medications, and psychological changes in addition to longevity of the disease. According to American College of Gastroenterology, as many as 75 percent of patients visiting diabetic clinics will report significant GI symptoms. They include peptic ulcer disease, gall stones, irritable bowel syndrome and food poisoning.

Symptoms of GI problems include heartburn, dysphagia, dysmotility, fullness after eating, bloating, nausea, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, gastroesophageal reflux, chest pain, and gastroparesis. (WebMD.com). Among all the conditions gastroparesis is the most chronic condition.

Symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease could be sometimes mistaken for angina because of the fact that the esophageal sphincter loses its ability to close properly after the food reaches the stomach, resulting in reflux of the food and gastric juices into the esophagus. Because of the proximity of the esophagus to the heart, patients with cardiac problems like me cannot distinguish between both conditions.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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