Gastrointestinal Symptoms in Patients with Diabetes Mellitus

  • AB Olokoba
  • M Yusuf
  • KA Adekeye
  • SA Aderibigbe
Keywords: Gastrointestinal, Symptoms, Diabetes Mellitus


Background: Gastrointestinal symptoms are reportedly more common in patients with diabetes mellitus, and are attributed to autonomic dysfunction of the gastrointestinal tract. These symptoms are also frequent in individuals without diabetes mellitus.
Objectives: To determine whether gastrointestinal symptoms are more frequent in persons with diabetes mellitus compared with age and sex-matched controls, and to assess the association of these symptoms with blood sugar control.
Methods: Hospital-based case control study. Study was carried out in the diabetic clinic of the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, Ilorin from January to December, 2007. A structured and standardized interviewer administered questionnaire concerning gastrointestinal symptoms in the last 3 months, was administered to 212 consecutively recruited diabetic patients with age and sex-matched non-diabetic controls. Blood glucose control was assessed as an average of the 3 most recent fasting blood sugar.
Results: A total of 74 males and 138 females were interviewed in both the diabetic and control groups. The age ranged from 21 to 92 years with a mean of 59+/- 12.9 years. Early satiety was more frequent in diabetic patients than controls (p<0.05) whereas nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea was more in controls than diabetic patients (p<0.05). There was no difference in constipation, heartburn, epigastric pain, bloating, faecal incontinence, and gustatory sweating between cases and controls. Fifty one and half percent (51.5%) of the diabetic patients had poor glycaemic control. There was no correlation between gastrointestinal symptoms, the degree of glucose control, and the duration of disease except for epigastric pain. There was no age or sex predilection for gastrointestinal symptoms among diabetic patients. However, there was a female predilection for nausea and vomiting among controls.
Conclusions: Gastrointestinal symptoms in patients with DM are not different from non-diabetic controls except for early satiety which is more in DM patients, whereas nausea, vomiting and diarrhea was found to be more in non-diabetic controls.

Journal Identifiers

print ISSN: 2251-0079