How Diabetes Can Lead to Urinary Incontinence

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Author
Nobel Hygiene

Can Diabetes Cause Urinary Incontinence? YES!

Diabetes is a metabolic issue that is caused when the body fails to regulate the amount of sugar in the blood. Blood sugar is regulated by insulin, which helps push glucose from the blood to cells so that they can get the energy to function. However in some situations either glucose is not produced, or the amount produced is insufficient - this leads to diabetes.

Depending on the cause, diabetes and its types can be of four kinds:

  • Type 1 Diabetes -
    This occurs in both children and adults and is caused by the failure of the pancreas to produce enough insulin.

  • Type 2 Diabetes –
    The most common type of diabetes, this occurs when the body fails to maintain normal glucose levels or resists the effects of insulin. Stress, lack of exercise and obesity lead to this kind of diabetes.

  • Gestational Diabetes Mellitus –
    This is pregnancy-related diabetes and affects how the body uses glucose.

  • Prediabetes –
    This is a precursor of Type 2 diabetes and occurs when the body is struggling to maintain glucose levels, but managed, somehow. This can be reversed with exercise and a proper diet.

Diabetes and its types are closely linked to urinary incontinence. It causes urinary incontinence in nearly 4 out of 10 women, and nearly half of all cases of severe urinary incontinence are linked to diabetes.

How Diabetes and Urinary Incontinence Are Interlinked?

Effects of diabetes on the body include elevated blood sugar, decreased blood flow, issues in the nervous system and sensory functions. As a result, it is closely linked to frequent urination, UTIs and incontinence.

One of the most prominent effects of diabetes on the body is urinary incontinence. This is caused due to:

  • DIABETES MEDICATION:
    Diabetes meds work by forcing glucose out of the blood into the urine to regulate levels of blood sugar. This excess glucose in the bladder can irritate it resulting in incontinence.

  • NEUROPATHY OR NERVE DAMAGE:
    Six out of ten people with diabetes have some form of nerve damage. This usually occurs when diabetes remains untreated for a long time.

    • Nerve damage due to high diabetes can result in the legs losing sensation or urinary incontinence.

    • When nerve damage affects the nerves that control the bowel and bladder, it is called a neurogenic bladder. The symptoms of this are:

      • Overflow Urinary incontinence

      • Dribbling urine or when the bladder becomes incapable of emptying itself.

      • Overactive bladder

      • Urge urinary incontinence incontinence

      • Increased frequency of urination

      • Urinary Tract Infections

Diabetes also may lead to the urge to urinate several times at night. This is called nocturia and leads to exhaustion, sleeplessness and frequent bedwetting.

A common solution for this is the use of adult diapers such as the Friends Overnight Diaper. These are super absorbent diapers, available in pant-style and tape-style and can absorb liquids for up to 16 hours. Overnight Diapers are an excellent solution to bedwetting due to high diabetes and help afford sufferers a few hours of peaceful, uninterrupted sleep.

  • THIRST:
    An elevated amount of blood sugar increases the frequency of urination. Apart from causing nocturia, this increases pressure on the bladder and leads to frequent urination throughout the day. High blood sugars also lead to UTIs.

  • EXCESS WEIGHT AND OBESITY:
    Nearly 90% of all diabetes cases are cases of type-2 diabetes, and nearly all sufferers of this are somewhat overweight or obese. Obesity contributes to incontinence as one’s body exerts more pressure on the pelvic region making it difficult for muscles to support the urethra and bladder. This causes the bladder and its muscles to be in a constant state of squeeze and can result in them dribbling urine.

  • COMPROMISED IMMUNE SYSTEM:
    Higher blood sugar levels can weaken the immune system as certain microorganisms are more likely to grow in hyperglycemic environments. Further, in women, diabetes can cause the bladder to fail to empty completely resulting in a small amount of urine remaining inside at all points of time. This is a perfect breeding ground for microbes and further increases the risk of UTIs. UTIs can cause an intense, sudden need to urinate and are coupled with painful urination.

Key Ways to Treat/Manage Diabetes-related Incontinence

The effects of diabetes, if untreated, can be dangerous and lead to advanced urinary bladder problems. Gladly both diabetes problems and urinary bladder problems are easy to treat and with advice from a good doctor, medical procedures and even stay-at-home options. Some of them are as follows:

  1. Bladder Training - this involves timing and scheduling toilet breaks, and urinating only during a scheduled break. As the bladder adjusts to the routine, intervals can be increased.

  2. Pelvic floor exercises - Kegels can help tighten up the pelvic floor region, the loosening up of which is one of the most common urinary incontinence causes. This involves 10-15 reps of clenching and unclenching the pelvic muscles, two times every day. Kegel exercises are especially important for women facing diabetes problems, as pregnancies may cause their pelvic muscles to loosen up.

  3. Dietary control - Improving one’s diet, cutting out oily food and junk, eating more fibre and including more bladder-happy foods in the menu can help. It is also important to drink up to 4 litres of water to stay hydrated. A good diet along with regular exercise can also help with weight loss which helps reduce pressure on the bladder. Avoiding caffeine, alcohol and carbonated drinks also helps.

  4. Medications - Medications such as anticholinergics, if prescribed by a doctor can help control the nerves of the bladder and prevent them from firing too much and squeezing the urinary apparatus.

It is important to remember that just as urinary incontinence causes can be complex, so can their results. Food, drink and exercise may not cause immediate, dramatic effects but can certainly help slow down the issues caused by diabetes-related incontinence.

“Urinary incontinence causes a lot of confidence and mental issues along with the physical issues,” said Dr Sanjeev from Hyderabad. “But easy urine problem solutions do exist. What happens in diabetes type 2 is that the blood sugar level is elevated, but eating right and losing weight usually helps manage this by up to 60%.”

How to stop urine leakage?

Are you diabetic? If yes, then first get an official diagnosis of diabetes-led incontinence from your doctor. Post that you can use medical means to stop urine leakage, or opt for diapers. Adult Diapers, or dry pants, are light-weight, disposable and help capture urine flow. They can help sufferers of incontinence reclaim their lives and step out confidently.