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    Diabetes Increases Risk for GERD, Gastroparesis

    Diabetes can cause delayed stomach emptying which can increase your risk of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), but lifestyle changes can help reverse both conditions.

    Diabetes and GERD

    Heartburn affects 60 million Americans, and 15 million experience the condition on a daily basis. Chronic heartburn, or GERD, is a serious condition that can lead to long-term health problems. One of the little-known causes of heartburn is diabetes, a chronic metabolic disease that affects approximately 30.3 million Americans.

    Diabetes and Gastroparesis

    High blood glucose levels from diabetes can harm the vagus nerve, which controls the involuntary contractions of muscles that digest and move food through the GI tract. Damage to the vagus nerve can cause gastroparesis, or delayed stomach emptying. Undigested food that remains in the stomach can cause gastric glands to release more acid, which contributes to reflux and subsequent heartburn.

    Oral drugs like proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs) may temporarily relieve heartburn symptoms, but the best way to get lasting relief is to have a physician diagnose the underlying gastroparesis. The most common symptoms of gastroparesis are:
    • Satiety (premature sensation of fullness)
    • Indigestion
    • Stomach pain
    • Regurgitation and vomiting
    • Malnutrition
    • Weight loss

    Call Your GI Doctor and Create Healthy Habits

    If you have chronic heartburn and you suspect gastroparesis, make an appointment with a gastroenterologist for testing. Also, get tested for diabetes or prediabetes: almost one-third of Americans with diabetes are unaware they have the disease, and 84 million Americans have prediabetes, a condition that elevates the risk of type-2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

    You can make lifestyle changes to reduce your likelihood of developing diabetes, gastroparesis or GERD. If you already have been diagnosed with one or more of these conditions, these lifestyle changes will significantly improve your health:
    1. Get 60 minutes of daily moderate physical activity.
    2. Eat a high-protein, high-fiber diet with plenty of vegetables, whole grains and fruits.
    3. Limit red meat, processed meat, high-fat foods and prepared foods.
    4. Maintain a healthy body weight. If you need to lose weight, speak with your doctor for guidance.
    5. Limit alcohol intake.
    6. Quit smoking.

    November is National Diabetes Month, so call a gastroenterologist this month to schedule an appointment to discuss your risk of diabetes, gastroparesis and GERD. If you are not under the care of a fellowship-trained GI doctor, click here and enter your zip code in the orange box. You will get a list of gastroenterologists in your local area who are ready to partner with you for optimum digestive health.

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