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Diarrhea is often seen in patients with diabetes. In fact, as many as 22% of diabetics experienced diarrhea as a result of their condition. It is likely that the problem is caused by bowel or colon problems. Some might also develop increased stool volume, frequency and water content.

Causes of diabetic diarrhea

Diabetic diarrhea might occur as a result of abnormal motility and secretion of colonic fluid. Many intestinal problems can also cause diarrhea, but these problems are not exclusive to diabetics. The most widely seen of these problems is intestinal bowel syndrome.


Treatment for those with this condition is similar to the treatment of diarrhea in non-diabetics. The non diagnostic form of diarrhea will lead to treatment centered on symptomatic care. In this case, medication such as diphenoxylate and loperamide might be used. One might also be required to supplement ones diet with bran, Citrucel, Metamucil or high fiber foods. Supplementing ones fiber intake might help to decrease the water content of bowel movements. In order to lower the frequency of passing stools, medication will be provided.

In some cases, pancreatic enzymes or antibiotics might be advisable. This will be the case if pancreatic exocrine insufficiency and bacterial overgrowth are the causes. In severe cases, one might be required to undergo injections of octreotide, a hormone that has been shown to help combat the onset of diabetic diarrhea.

The small intestine

In those who have suffered from diabetes for a long period of time, the small intestine might thus become affected. This will result in abnormal motility, absorption or secretion. Symptoms of this problem include pain in the abdomen, diarrhea and bloating. If the fluids in the small intestine become stagnant, then this might lead to problems such as bacterial overgrowth syndromes. Cisapride and metclopropamide might assist in the proper passing of the fluids.

Diagnosis might involve specialised testing processes, such as D-xylose tests and breath hydrogen testing. Often, an empiric trial of antibiotics is the best way to diagnose and treat the condition.


In some cases, chronic abdominal pain syndrome might be experienced. This can be a difficult condition to treat. However, the administration of pain medications and antidepressants like amitryptilline can help. It should be pointed out that this carries the risk of narcotic addiction.

Some diabetics will also be vulnerable to celiac sprue. This condition involves the development of a wheat gluten allergy. Symptoms of this condition include inflammation and thinning of the intestinal mucus. A gluten free diet is the normal solution to this problem.

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