Diabetes and Urinary Tract Infections

Diabetes and Urinary Tract Infections

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Diabetes and urinary tract infections are common. Here is a guide to the symptoms and information on treating UTI’s when they occur. One of the critical concerns in managing diabetes is related to the kidneys. As these organs work to eliminate waste there can become a secondary risk of infection. Those risks are most pronounced in diabetic women who must treat a urinary tract infection (UTI).

We each dispose of more than a quart of urine each day, although this can vary based on how much fluid you drink and the type of foods you eat.

Because of the link between diabetes and immunity issues there seems to be a greater risk for UTI’s among women who have diabetes. Men can also develop UTI’s, but they are less common.

The National Institute on Health (NIH) explains the process the body goes through to eliminate liquid waste, “The urinary system consists of the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. The key elements in the system are the kidneys, a pair of purplish-brown organs located below the ribs toward the middle of the back. The kidneys remove excess liquid and wastes from the blood in the form of urine, keep a stable balance of salts and other substances in the blood, and produce a hormone that aids the formation of red blood cells. Narrow tubes called ureters carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder, a sack-like organ in the lower abdomen. Urine is stored in the bladder and emptied through the urethra.”

Most scientists agree that urine by itself is generally sterile and cannot create a bacterial infection on it’s own. The NIH suggests, “An infection occurs when tiny organisms, usually bacteria from the digestive tract, cling to the opening of the urethra and begin to multiply. The urethra is the tube that carries urine from the bladder to outside the body. Most infections arise from one type of bacteria, Escherichia coli (E. coli), which normally lives in the colon.”

The danger to diabetics is that if the UTI is not treated quickly additional infections may take place. The most common infection is in the kidneys. In a healthy individual the immune system fights off most of these infections, however, in a diabetic the immune system may not be capable of warding off an infection without medical intervention. In worst-case scenarios UTI’s may require surgical procedures to correct.

The NIH provided some telling statistics related to the occurrence and reoccurrence of UTI’s when they indicated, “Nearly 20 percent of women who have a UTI will have another, and 30 percent of those will have yet another. Of the last group, 80 percent will have recurrences.”

Symptoms of a UTI include…

  • A frequent urge to urinate
  • A painful, burning feeling in the area of the bladder or urethra during urination
  • A feeling of being tired, shaky, washed out
  • A feeling of pain even when not urinating
  • Women may feel an uncomfortable pressure above the pubic bone
  • Men experience a fullness in the rectum
  • Despite the urge to urinate, often only a small amount of urine is passed
  • The urine itself may look milky or cloudy, even reddish if blood is present
  • A fever may mean that the infection has reached the kidneys
  • Pain in the back or side below the ribs
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

A UTI is generally diagnosed through a simple urine test conducted at a clinic. Treatment is generally through the use of antibacterial drugs. In severe cases a patient may require hospitalization.

If you are diabetic and experience repeat UTI’s your doctor may prescribe medications that can help correct deficiencies and alter the environment that allows UTI’s to form.

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