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Relationship Between Diabetes & Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) & How to Avoid It!

Relationship Between Diabetes & Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) & How to Avoid It!

If you’re a diabetic, chances are that you already know of your risk of developing other conditions like heart disease, kidney issues, nerve damage, high blood pressure, obesity, stroke, and more. But has anyone ever told you that diabetics are also at a greater risk of developing a urinary tract infection? The higher levels of glucose in blood and urine together with an impaired immune system are majorly responsible for diabetic people to acquire a urinary tract infection or bladder infection.


What is a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)?

As the name indicates, a urinary tract infection is a common bacterial infection that affects your urinary system or the organs in the urinary system like the bladder, urethra, kidneys, and urinary tract. Here are some of the symptoms of UTI for an easy self-diagnosis:

  • Lower abdominal pain or pelvic pain
  • Vaginal itching
  • Pain and burning sensation while urination
  • Dark or cloudy urine
  • Occasional blood in the urine
  • Vaginal cramps or discomfort
  • Pain while having intercourse


However, besides affecting the urinary system, UTI can reach the kidneys as well causing fever, chills, pain in the lumbar region, and pain below the ribs at the back, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and cramps. Diabetics are also believed to be getting frequent UTIs recurrently.


Why Diabetics are More Prone to Getting Urinary Tract Infection?

Though UTI can occur to anyone regardless of their age or gender, it’s the diabetics that are at a greater risk of developing one. Various studies of diabetics and non-diabetics people have concluded that there are certain factors that are to be held responsible for higher rates of UTI in diabetics. Here are these factors:

  • Higher concentration of glucose in the urine makes it a breeding environment for the growth and support of bacteria that can further cause urinary tract infections in diabetics.
  • Higher accumulation and concentration of glucose in renal parenchyma (a part of the kidneys) act as an inducing ground for the microorganisms and bacteria to grow and amplify. Such bacterial growth leads to urinary tract infections and recurrent UTIs in diabetics.
  • Most diabetics suffer from nerve damage in the urinary tract, also called neuropathy, that ultimately becomes responsible for the retention of urine and the feeling of not having urinated properly. This further causes the bacteria to deposit and grow while increasing the chances of a urinary tract infection. Diabetic neuropathy in women may lead to bladder infection or bladder dysfunction in most cases.


Symptoms of UTI in Diabetics

Signs and symptoms of a classic urinary tract infection are a bit different from the symptoms of UTI in diabetics. Here are the UTI symptoms in diabetics which indicate involvement of the lower urinary tract i.e urethra and the urinary bladder:

  • Persistent urge of urinating or the feeling of bladder not getting emptied
  • Pain or burning sensation while passing urine
  • Cloudy urine with a foamy appearance at times
  • Urine with a foul smell
  • Urine with drops of blood
  • Pain and discomfort in the abdomen or back


Here are the symptoms of infection involving the upper urinary tract which involved the kidneys and the ureter in diabetics affecting kidneys and ureter:

  • Diarrhoea
  • High fever
  • Chills and rigours
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Pain in the upper back and side flank


Risk Factors or Recurrent UTI in Diabetics

Here are some of the risk factors in diabetics that increase their likelihood of contracting an upper or lower urinary tract infection. If these factors aren’t kept under control, diabetics develop the tendency of getting frequent UTIs also known as recurrent UTIs. Let’s look at the risk factors:

  • Consistently higher levels of glucose in kidneys and urine
  • A weaker or compromised immune system
  • Urinary tract diabetic neuropathy or nerve damage in diabetics
  • Kidney or bladder stones
  • Other urinary tract issues
  • Hormonal imbalances in women, specifically during menopause
  • Bacterial penetration inside the urethra during intercourse or oral sex


How to Prevent UTI if You’re a Diabetic?

  • Load Up on Water

Maintaining a decent fluid intake throughout the day is the key to preventing as well as treating UTIs. If you’re a diabetic, you’re at a higher risk of developing a urinary tract infection. Take good care of your body by staying hydrated throughout the day and loading up on water and other fluids.

  • Avoid Holding Your Bladder

If you’re a diabetic, never try to hold your bladder for long as it can make you highly susceptible to having a urinary tract infection. You should never try to hold your pee for long. If you’ve to step out, plan your travel in a way that you’re never away from a washroom.

  • Wear Comfortable Cotton Underwear

Regardless of whether you’re a diabetic or non-diabetic, wearing breathable undergarments made of cotton is highly recommended. Doing so helps prevent the deposit and growth of bacteria thus preventing your risk of developing a UTI.

  • Wipe from Front to Back

Wiping correctly after urinating is an important factor when it comes to preventing UTIs in diabetics. If you’re a woman, make sure you wipe from front to back and not from back to front as that may lead to the travelling of bacteria and getting deposited there.

  • Keep a Tab on Your Blood Sugar Levels

Consistently high blood sugar levels increase your chances of developing a urinary tract infection. Monitor your blood sugar levels regularly and keep them under the recommended range to prevent UTI.

  • Maintain Intimate Hygiene

Always keep your intimate area hygiene game on point. Always keep your vaginal area and urethra dry and clean. Make sure you don’t use any such products that are loaded with chemicals or irritants that end up disturbing your pH balance. Keeping hygiene and pH levels under control is crucial to prevent the risk of developing a urinary tract infection.



Though UTI is common in diabetics due to the high glucose content and a compromised immune system. However, with good hygiene, regular blood sugar monitoring, and good sugar control measures, preventing UTI in diabetics isn’t a mammoth task. For further guidance, please see an endocrinologist now!

Dr Anshuman Kumar
Diabetes Care
Meet The Doctor
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