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Diabetes and Constipation or Diarrhea

Diabetes is a disease in which the body either does not produce or is unable to use the hormone insulin properly. The pancreas produces insulin, which helps the body use sugar (glucose) from foods. If the pancreas cannot produce enough insulin, or if the body cannot use the insulin properly, blood sugar levels rise and the body cannot use foods effectively. High blood sugar levels are harmful to many body tissues.

Constipation is the most common gastrointestinal problem of people with diabetes. Diarrhea that occurs at night is also common. The nerves of the intestines control how long solid food waste remains in the intestines. If these nerves have been damaged by high blood sugar levels, food and waste products may move through the intestines too slowly, causing constipation or too quickly, causing diarrhea. Damage to the intestinal nerves usually does not occur unless you have had type 1 diabetes that requires treatment with insulin for many years.

If you have diabetes, discuss any problems that you are having with either constipation or diarrhea with your doctor. Both conditions can be easily treated with medicine.

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer David Messenger, MD
Current as of February 20, 2013

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: February 20, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

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