Tips to Help Diabetics Avoid Bladder Problems

Tips to Help Diabetics Avoid Bladder Problems

People with diabetes need to be particularly careful about monitoring their health because the disease can cause a variety of complications, including bladder problems. When you’re aware of the potential problems and know how to spot them, you can often prevent bladder problems from escalating.

How diabetes affects the bladder

When you have diabetes, blood glucose starts to accumulate in your blood. That glucose acts to draw fluids from your body’s tissues, causing you to become very thirsty. Your bladder is working hard to remove the blood glucose from your body, and when you drink additional liquid to satisfy your thirst, you make the bladder work harder still.

Initial symptoms of a bladder problem may be the need to urinate frequently or urgently due to the increased levels of urine your bladder needs to process. But diabetes can also damage the nerves that signal a full bladder.

Left untreated, you could end up stretching the bladder muscles, making it less able to empty completely. If there is accompanying nerve damage, you may find that full-bladder signals become less noticeable. They may change to a sense of fullness or pressure, which make them easy to ignore, putting even more pressure on the bladder.

If the issue still isn’t addressed, your bladder may be so stretched that it can no longer empty completely, which may lead to urinary tract infections, and if the sphincter muscle is overwhelmed, incontinence.

How to prevent bladder problems

Awareness and action are the critical elements in preventing bladder problems. Once you understand how bladder problems start and escalate, you’re in an excellent position to spot a problem.

If you're drinking more liquids than usual and urinating more often, you need to talk to your doctor. If you experience a period of time when you have urgent needs to urinate and then that symptom eases, don’t think the problem has gone away. It could be that you’re not getting the signals of a full bladder.

Treatments for diabetic bladder problems

Your doctor will conduct tests to analyze the cause of the problem. A postvoid residual (PVR) measurement is a common test. It measures the amount of urine left in the bladder after urination. Normally, a bladder may have a PVR value of 30 ccs after urination. With a bladder problem, that value may go up to 100-200 cc or higher.

Treatments vary depending on how far advanced the problem has become. These are just some possible treatments:

  • If your bladder is extremely stretched out, you need to get it back in shape. One way to do this is to use a Foley catheter. The catheter drains urine directly from the bladder to a bag taped to your leg. Using a catheter for several days gives your bladder time to repair itself.
  • Sometimes, self-catheterization is more appropriate. Using this approach, you would use a catheter when urinating, then remove it.
  • Double-voiding is another approach where you return to the bathroom 10-15 minutes after urination and try again. You may find that your bladder wasn’t emptied the first time.

This is one situation where what you don’t know can hurt you. If you notice anything similar to the symptoms of a bladder problem, take action immediately. There are effect treatments, but the longer the situation continues, the more difficult it will be to control.

Sources:

http://www.diabetesselfmanagement.com/managing-diabetes/complications-prevention/resolving-diabetes-related-bladder-problems/

http://www.simonfoundation.org/About_Incontinence_Contributing_Factors_Diabetes.html

http://www.diabeticconnect.com/diabetes-information-articles/complications/overactive-bladder/557-why-does-diabetes-cause-overactive-bladder

http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/urologic-disease/urinary-retention/Pages/facts.aspx#sec6