Have diabetes? If yes, you must know that it can increase your risk for other health issues also such as developing heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, problem in conceiving, nerve damage, kidney issues, obesity, and more. One of the problems that also has been seen in diabetic patients at a higher rate is Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) due to high glucose content in the urine and sometimes because of a weak or impaired immune system. However, diabetes and UTI are linked, you can follow simple tips to avoid UTI.
The link between diabetes and UTI has been established by multiple studies
The National Academy of Medical Sciences (NAMS), Kathmandu, Nepal, conducted a study to find out the prevalence of UTIs in diabetic patients. This study found that out of a total of 1470 diabetic patients (847 women and 623 men) about 10.5 percent of type 2 and 12.8 percent of type 1 diabetic patients had UTI.
In fact, in another study published in the journal Hindawi, scientists analyzed the urine samples of 772 patients and found that women and old-aged adults with uncontrolled diabetes are at higher risk of developing urinary tract infections.
Why do diabetics get UTI frequently?
To understand this, Health Shots got in touch with Dr Pritam Moon, consultant physician, and Diabetologist, Wockhardt Hospital Mira Road, Mumbai.
Dr Moon says, “Diabetes, which is a high blood sugar condition, is a good medium for bacteria to grow or travel (to the kidneys) so the chances are much higher to happen in diabetes.”
What are the signs of UTI?
When it comes to the symptoms of UTI, painful urination sometimes accompanied by blood and increased urge to urinate is the major symptom of UTI. Other symptoms are:
- Cramping or vaginal irritation
- Painful intercourse
- Pain in the lower abdomen or pelvis
- Itching in vagina
- Foul-smelling urine or frequent urination
- A burning feeling while urinating
- Very dark or cloudy urine
- Blood in the urine
UTIs can spread to the kidneys as well, and these are the symptoms for that:
- Pain in the lumbar region or just below the ribs in the back
- Nausea and vomiting throughout the day
- Abdominal pain
If you are a diabetic, you may also experience frequent infections which is knowns as recurrent UTI. According to the Office on Women’s Health, a recurrent UTI is defined as 2 UTIs within the previous 6 months or three episodes of a UTI in the previous 12 months.
Risk factors or recurrent UTI
- High glucose levels in the kidneys/Urine
- Weak immune system
- Nerve damage (neuropathy) in the urinary tract of diabetics
Other risk factors of recurrent UTI
- Having kidney stones or bladder stones
- Existing issues with urinary tract function
- Hormonal fluctuations, especially during the menopause
- Bacteria getting the urethra during oral or penetration sex
Tips on how to avoid UTI if you have diabetes, according to Dr Moon:
1. Drink enough water
If you have diabetes, you are at a higher risk of getting a urinary tract infection (UTI). It is more commonly seen in women than men. So, one will have to take good care by staying hydrated and drinking a lot of water. Maintaining a good fluid intake is key to tackling a UTI.
2. Avoid holding your pee
Those with diabetes should avoid holding their pee for a longer time. Doing so can make them susceptible to a UTI. Try to find a bathroom and then relieve yourself.
3. Wear cotton underwear
Whether you have diabetes or not to prevent a UTI, you need to opt for skin-friendly and breathable undergarments. So, make sure to wear cotton underwear and keep UTIs at bay.
4. Wipe correctly
Did you know that wiping front to back after going to the bathroom can help one to avoid a UTI.
5. Monitor your blood sugar levels on a regular basis
Abnormal blood sugar levels can increase one’s chances of having a UTI. So, the blood sugar levels should be in a recommended range as suggested by the doctor.
6. Maintain hygiene
Always keep the vaginal area clean and dry. And avoid any kind of product use which contains chemicals as they may disturb your pH level, increasing your risk of getting infections.
7. Consume vitamin C
Vitamin C is a nutrient that is known to boost your immunity. A strong immune system can prevent infections by maintaining your pH balance down there. Guava, amla, spinach, kale, lemon, and grapefruit are good sources of vitamin C and are safe for diabetic patients.
Also, wear cotton underwear and avoid synthetic underwear.