Upper GI symptoms are more prevalent in people with diabetes than in people without, and better glycemic control may be the key to reducing these problems.

Researchers evaluated 190 individuals with type 2 diabetes and found the frequency of GI symptoms among them to be as follows:

  • Overall GI symptoms: 72%
  • Upper GI symptoms (globus, heartburn, acid regurgitation, noncardiac chest pain, ulcer-like dyspepsia, and dysmotility-like dyspepsia): 43%
  • Lower GI symptoms (irritable bowel syndrome, abdominal bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and anal discomfort): 58%.

Compared with control subjects, people with diabetes had 1.45 times as many overall GI symptoms, 1.68 times as many upper GI symptoms, and 1.10 times as many lower GI symptoms.

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In addition, 3.38 times as many upper GI symptoms were noted in people with hemoglobin (Hb) A1c levels 8% or higher compared with people whose levels were lower than 6%. After evaluating the relationship between upper GI symptoms and diabetes complications, HbA1c levels, and duration and treatment of diabetes, the investigators found HbA1c level to be the only factor associated with upper GI symptoms.

“We cautiously suggest that chronic upper GI symptoms may be reversible with tight control of blood glucose level,” wrote the authors (World J Gastroenterol. 2010;16:1782-1787).