Diabetes and UTIs: What You Should Know

More than 50% of women will have a urinary tract infection (UTI) at some point in their lives. Women with type 2 diabetes may be at an even higher risk of UTI. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), patients with type 2 diabetes experience more frequent and more severe UTIs. They also tend to have worse outcomes: the UTIs in diabetes patients are more often caused by resistant pathogens, meaning the infections are more difficult to treat.

Most important for people with diabetes—type 1 or 2—is to catch the UTI early. Diabetes patients can have a harder time fighting infection and are already at risk for kidney damage, which can become worse if the infection spreads.

Know the Symptoms of a UTI

If you or someone you are caring for has diabetes, call the doctor if you notice these symptoms:
• Frequent and strong urge to pee
• Pain, a burning feeling or discomfort when peeing
• Urine that has a strong smell, is cloudy, dark or bloody
• Pain in the back and/or lower abdomen
• Fever or chills

Note that you do not have to have all of these symptoms, and symptoms can be different in different people. For example, in some elderly patients, a UTI can also present as dementia, increased dementia or agitation. Some diabetes patients, especially those with diabetic neuropathy, may not experience the same pain in the abdomen or back when they have a UTI.

Preventing UTIs with Diabetes

Taking care of your diabetes well will help prevent UTIs. For example, having high blood glucose levels can increase your risk of a UTI, so keeping blood sugar levels as steady as possible is important. Make sure you empty as much of your bladder as possible when you pee. This can be an issue for people with diabetes and can contribute to bacteria growth that can cause infection.

Other UTI prevention tips are the same whether you have diabetes or not. They include:

  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Do not hold pee in—if you have to go, find a bathroom and go.
  • Wipe front to back after going to the bathroom.
  • Wear cotton underwear.

For more prevention tips and information, read UTI Prevention on our blog.

With diabetes and UTIs, it’s key to keep regular appointments with your doctor and always ask questions about how you can best care for yourself. Ask your doctor to explain how to best prevent and quickly recognize UTIs. If your doctor diagnoses you with a UTI and prescribes antibiotics, ask if you can take Uristat® tablets to help relieve the pain. Its main ingredient is phenazopyridine HCl. Mention this to your doctor, especially if you know you have kidney problems or other diabetes complications.

If you have friends or loved ones with diabetes, share this article with them.