Diabetes and UTIs - what’s the connection?
What is the aim of World Diabetes Day?
November 14th marks World Diabetes Day (WDD).
Diabetes is a serious, and potentially lifelong, condition affecting people worldwide.
- By 2030, it is expected that 578 million people will be living with diabetes.
- Half of adults living with diabetes don’t yet have a diagnosis.
- In 2019, diabetes caused approximately 4.2 million deaths.
Diabetes is also associated with other health complications, including urinary tract infections (UTI). The prevalence of UTI in people living with diabetes is much higher than the rest of the population, at around 8% - 26%.
WDD aims to raise awareness about the challenges facing people living with diabetes, to improve the care available to them. And in support of the 2022 theme Education to Protect Tomorrow, we wanted to shed some light on the link between diabetes and UTI.
What are the symptoms of diabetes?
Here are the most common signs of Type 2 diabetes:
- Needing to pee a lot
- Needing to get up at night to pee
- Feeling very thirsty
- Feeling very tired
- Unexpected weight loss
- Itching around your intimate area, or repeated episodes of thrush
- Cuts or wounds taking longer to heal
- Blurry vision
The majority of people living with diabetes live with Type 2 diabetes.
But for more about Type 1 diabetes, you can find further information here.
100 years since the first successful insulin treatment!
This year celebrates the 100th anniversary of the first successful injection of insulin administered to a patient (key for the treatment of diabetes).
Before the discovery of insulin, patients would be expected to live maybe only a couple of years following their diagnosis.
But what is it?
Insulin is a hormone which helps cells to absorb and use glucose, which the body needs for energy. With Type 2 diabetes, the body does not produce enough insulin, meaning that glucose is not absorbed into the cells, and there are then high levels of glucose left in the blood. This can then lead to health complications.
Therefore, to treat Type 2 diabetes, insulin is injected to the body so that glucose can be absorbed.
And why is the risk of cystitis higher in diabetes?
- With diabetes, the sensory nervous system doesn’t function as well, meaning that signals to and from the bladder don’t work as well. So it is possible for the bladder to not empty fully; around 67% of women living with diabetes may experience bladder dysfunction. If urine stays in the bladder for too long, it gives bacteria more chance to grow into an infection.
- Poor circulation in diabetes means that it’s harder for white blood cells to travel around the body and fight an infection.
- Higher glucose levels in diabetes increase the risk of cystitis, because it helps the growth of infection-causing bacteria.
- And findings from a 2022 research study suggest that high glucose levels can also cause less antimicrobial activity (activity which destroys bacteria) in those with diabetes, which means bacteria can do more damage.
‘Access to Diabetes Care’
‘Access to Diabetes Care’ is the theme for the current 3-year WDD campaign.
Despite advancements made in diabetes care, people living with diabetes still struggle to access insulin and other medications, self-monitoring equipment, education, and psychological support.
But if you are living with diabetes and also experience urinary tract infections, the TestCard at-home UTI test kit makes testing for UTI easy and accessible (available at Superdrug.com and many other pharmacies).
With TestCard, you can take a urine test and get the results from the comfort of your home, and if your results are positive for UTI you can also use our treatment partner to get antibiotic treatment delivered straight to your door.