November is American Diabetes Month, an opportunity to discuss one of the most common diseases in our society today. Although it affects 20 million Americans, there are still a lot of misconceptions about diabetes and how serious it can be.
Diabetes is often assumed to be a blood sugar issue, and not much more. But what may surprise you is that diabetes can affect nearly every system in your body — even those seemingly unrelated to blood sugar. This includes your digestion. Diabetes can actually put you at an increased risk of digestive problems, including food poisoning.
How diabetes can affect your digestion
When you have diabetes, your immune system is slower to respond to unwanted invaders like bacteria. As a result, bacteria get a better chance to take hold in your body. This includes the bacteria that can cause food poisoning.
In addition, high blood sugar levels can damage nerves throughout your body — including those in your digestive system. When these nerves don’t work efficiently, your stomach may not move food through as quickly as it should. This allows bacteria or pathogens in your food a better chance to invade your digestive system.
Why food poisoning is dangerous for diabetics
Not only are the symptoms of food poisoning miserable, but people with diabetes can have increased complications if they get sick. If your kidneys are damaged due to uncontrolled blood glucose levels, they can’t work as well to flush out toxins. And if you’re unable to eat or get dehydrated from vomiting and diarrhea, you could take longer to recover. Diabetics are more likely to be sick longer or have serious complications from foodborne illness.
Prevention is key
If you have diabetes, you’ll need to be extra diligent about food safety:
- Wash all produce thoroughly before eating it.
- Keep raw meats away from other foods.
- Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling raw meats.
- Clean cutting boards and countertops with hot water and soap or bleach.
- Refrigerate leftovers promptly — don’t leave food out at room temperature.
With diabetes, good blood sugar control will help you avoid complications like food poisoning. Work with your physician to keep your blood glucose levels at a healthy number, and see your physician regularly for checkups.
CarePoint Health Primary Care
Your primary care physician can help you manage your healthcare, and answer any questions you have about your health. Your PCP will help you navigate your well visits and specialist care throughout your life, and will be your health care advocate. To find a skilled primary care physician at CarePoint Health, please contact us.
Content on our website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please call 911. Always consult your physician before making any changes to your medical treatment.