Let’s Talk about Poop
Poop. We don’t talk about it openly but we should. We all know it can be embarrassing but to be frank, we all poop so why not talk about it?
Diabetes, constipation and diarrhea
Diabetes can affect how we poop. As if it isn’t hard enough (no pun intended) with all the things we have to learn and to keep track of with diabetes, now we find it affects our bodies in ways we didn’t expect. Ugh! For some of us, too little poop means constipation. For others of us, too much poop means diarrhea, or in some cases, even irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). There are many potential causes of change to our bowels and how it’s related to diabetes.
How are constipation and diarrhea connected to diabetes?
Unhealthy eating habits
For some of us, this may have been our path to diabetes in the first place. If we eat a less than healthy diet with less roughage, our bowels may slow down. On the flip side, the unhealthy foods kept some of us regular. In my case, chocolate generally helped things move along (pun intended). I have heard others say coffee keeps them regular. Neither, although okay in small quantities, is a great way to deal with constipation.
Who doesn’t have stress in their life? We all do. The degree of the stress and how we deal with it can affect how our bowels function and how we poop. Under severe stress, the mind can affect the body leading to either constipation or diarrhea. (So...would meditation help us to poop? Who knows)
Nerve damage to bowel
Long term diabetes or uncontrolled diabetes can, over time, lead to nerve damage in many organs in our bodies: the heart, liver, pancreas, gut, and the bowel. If nerve damage affects the digestive tract, it may slow how fast the food moves through it. It’s not uncommon. Slower movement of food means, well, a slower movement (I just can’t help the puns).
Not everyone who has diabetes will be on medication but when we are, we know there can be side effects. A good example is with the drug Metformin. Gastrointestinal upset is very common. It can cause stomach upset and with some doses, diarrhea. Imagine how disruptive that could be to your life if you can’t get far from the bathroom. For some, it’s debilitating at the beginning potentially forcing them off the medication. Other medications are known to cause dehydration. Dehydration can lead to constipation.
How to help with constipation and diarrhea
So what can we do about how we poop, or not (last pun, I promise)?
- First line of defense, talk to your doctor or your diabetes team. There are many different medications to support diabetes. We don’t have to feel miserable from certain meds if there are other alternative ones. Even nerve damage to the bowel can be assessed to see what treatments are available.
- Next, work on reducing the stress in our lives, see if we can improve on our eating habits and staying hydrated. These will take practice and time to see changes.
- And finally, perhaps I have a warped sense of humor but I figure if poop is good for anything, it can be good for some humor. ‘Type of poops’ is my favorite.
Have you experienced any complications associated with your diabetes?