About Diabetic Stomach Pain

Diabetic stomach pain could be a signal of a bigger issue.
Diabetic stomach pain could be a signal of a bigger issue. (Image: Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Bruce)

Diabetic stomach pain can be symptomatic of bigger problems that should be addressed by a visit to a physician. Diabetes is a systemic disease that affects not only blood sugar levels, but it also can result in widespread pain, numbness in the feet and legs and stomach pain. Diabetes can be either type 1 or type 2, but diabetics are subject to the same problems when it comes to pain. Diabetics should be aware that not only are they susceptible to specific stomach ailments, but they are also at risk for other gastrointestinal illnesses.


Diabetes is a condition in which the body does not correctly make or metabolize insulin, which regulates blood sugars. According to eMedicineHealth, in type 1 diabetes the body does not make insulin and can't metabolize and process sugar from food. In type 2 diabetes the body makes insulin but can't use it without medication assistance.

Stomach Pain

When a diabetic feels stomach pain, there are many possible causes. For example, according to eMedicineHealth, it can be a warning symptom of a peptic ulcer, diabetic ketoacidosis or an aortic aneurysm. Stomach pain that is unrelenting often requires a visit to a doctor's office or emergency room, particularly if it is accompanied by a fever of more than 101 degrees and persistent low or high blood sugar.

Diabetic Ketoacidosis

Diabetic ketoacidosis can affect diabetics, according to eMedicineHealth. It is the result of inadequate levels of insulin allowing acidic waste products to build up in tissues and the blood. These waste products, called ketones, are extremely toxic. Diabetic ketoacidosis is more typical of type 1 diabetes and can be the result of stress, trauma, not taking prescribed insulin, stroke or heart attack. One of the primary symptoms is severe stomach pain.


Another condition that can lead to diabetic stomach pain is gastroparesis. According to the National Digestive Diseases Clearinghouse, gastroparesis is a condition in which the gastric system delays emptying out. This is common in diabetics, and it can result in extreme stomach pain. Foods that are high in fat and fiber are often poorly tolerated and delay exiting the gastrointestinal tract, resulting in abdominal pain, nausea and bloating.


Diabetics often have more and more difficulty controlling their blood sugar as time goes on. Serious complications can result from fluctuating blood sugar levels, including gastroparesis, chronic diarrhea and damage to nerve systems. According to Drs. James Woloson and Stephen Edelman, damage to the vagus nerve--in the digestive system--can result in severe pain in the upper abdomen.

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