Many elderly patients get UTIs while they are already on diabetes treatment. Likewise, diabetes and UTI in men are also conditions that go hand in hand. Research has actually shown that nearly 9.4% people suffering from Type 2 Diabetes also get UTIs regularly, while only 5.7% people without diabetes are diagnosed with bladder infections on annual basis.
In this guide, we will study what every diabetic patient needs to know about managing bladder infection.
Two types of UTIs are common in Diabetics
UTIs are typically of two types depending on which part of the urinary system they occur in: lower or upper UTIs. Lower urinary tract infections generally affect the bladder or the tubes carrying the urine from the bladder to the penis or vagina.Upper urinary tract infections, on the other hand, are bacterial infections that affect the kidneys. The latter are more serious in nature.
If left untreated, even the milder cases of lower UTIs could cause kidney infections called Pyelonephritis. These can be quite serious, and in elderly patients with diabetes, they might require hospitalization for treatment.
Why are diabetics at greater risks for UTIs?
- Diabetic patients tend to have weaker immune systems which lead to greater complications.
- Also, UTIs are more frequent in Diabetes mellitus since the circulation of blood is affected owing to higher levels of blood glucose. The glucose blocks the passage of white blood cells which are required to ward off infections. Blood glucose also allows bacteria to reproduce easily.
- Thirdly, people with diabetes often have diabetic neuropathy– a condition which prevents the sufferers from emptying their bladders completely (or as often as necessary). This leaves more room for bacteria to accumulate in the urine that is sitting in the bladder.
All these factors make the diabetic urinary tract a highly conducive environment for bacteria to live in and thrive.
Symptoms of UTIs Diabetic patients should watch out for
Typical signs and symptoms of UTIs are:
- Pain and burning during urination
- Producing very little urine-only a few drops each time- though there may be a feeling of wanting to urinate frequently.
- Back pain and abdominal cramps
- Bloody urine
- Cloudy and smelly urine
In case of Pyelonephritis, the symptoms may additionally include:
- High fever and chills
- Nausea and vomiting
- Back pain and pain on the sides just below the ribs in the flank region
If you or a loved one with diabetes is having any of these signs and symptoms of UTI, do see the doctor immediately.
UTI treatment in diabetes
Most common methods of treating Urine infections in Diabetic patients include antibiotic pills. Your doctor might even give you painkillers to reduce or manage pain and fever if any. In case of the more serious upper urinary tract infections, you might be asked to check into a hospital for overnight stay. Many people also tend to go for UTI treatment over the counter.These generally consist of pills that can help you manage pain and burning. However, it is advisable that you first check in with the pharmacist or your doctor before taking them.
How can diabetics prevent UTIs?
UTIs are preventable. The following steps are known to help diabetics exercise caution and avoid such infections:
- Consume at least 8-10 glasses of water. Drink sugar-free cranberry juice.
- Monitor your blood glucose levels closely and regularly.
- Urinate right after having an intercourse (for women).
- Also women should practice wiping their bottom (after having a bowel movement) from the front to back. This is very important to prevent the anal germs from reaching the urethra.
- Empty the bladder frequently and do not hold the urine for long periods of time.
Diabetic women should also avoid use of douches or spermicidal diaphragms etc as all these products can increase the likelihood of developing UTIs.
It is as such very difficult living with type 2 diabetes. If you are also suffering from regular UTIs, do talk to your doctor as to what you can do to avoid them. In some cases, a low dose antibiotic taken daily can help prevent these infections. Alternatively, you might need some tests to determine the cause behind your frequent UTIs when living with diabetes mellitus.