Urinary Tract Infection and Diabetes Mellitus – Stay on Track

Urinary tract infection (UTI) has long been recognized as a significant problem in patients with diabetes mellitus (DM) that occurs both in males and females of all age groups.

The urinary tract consists of the urethra, the bladder, the ureters, the kidneys and in men the prostate gland. An infection in any of these areas is called a urinary tract infection. Patients with Diabetes acquire urinary tract infections (UTIs) very often because hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) results in increase sugar in the urine and becomes a friendly environment for the bacterial cultures to grow. Age, poor metabolic control, duration of DM, defects in neutrophil function, frequent hospitalization, recurrent Vaginitis, vascular complications may play a major role in the higher incidence of UTI in diabetic patients.

The study conducted by M.V. Hospital for Diabetes and Diabetes Research Centre showed that the prevalence of UTI was high among females compared to males because the female urethra is shorter than the male urethra which allows bacteria to get into the bladder more easily. The severity of urinary tract infections varies from causing no symptoms to severe life-threatening illness. Milder infections called Cystitis tend to be restricted to the bladder which can be aggravated if the bladder does not empty completely, while more severe infections tend to spread to the kidney(s) called as Pyelonephritis. UTI in diabetic patients is not only more severe but also is more recurrent when compared to non-diabetic patients.

Find out the symptoms of bladder infection

  • Cloudy urine
  • Foul or strong urine odour
  • Pain or burning with urination
  • Itching during urination
  • Frequent or urgent need to urinate
  • Pressure in the lower pelvis.
  • Pus discharged from the urethra or blended with the urine.
  • Painful sexual intercourse
  • Low fever (not everyone will have a fever)
  • Frequent need to urinate at night

Understand these symptoms if the infection is extended to the kidneys

  • Chills and shaking
  • Fatigue
  • Fever above 1020F, which lasts for more than 2 days
  • Flank (side) pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Severe abdominal pain.
  • Flushed, warm or reddened skin
  • General ill feeling
  • Mental changes or confusion

Recurrent UTI – Be cautious

Some people have urinary tract infections occurring more than three times in a year. Such infections are called as recurrent UTIs. If you have recurrent UTI, you may need antibiotics for a long period of time, perhaps as long as 6 months to 2 years or stronger antibiotics may be prescribed. Dipsticks that change colour when an infection is present are now available even without prescription. The strips detect nitrite, which is formed when bacteria change nitrate in the urine to nitrite. The tests can detect about 90 percent of UTIs when used in the first morning urine specimen and may be useful to identify recurrent infections. (Urinary tract infection is treated with antibiotics for 5-7 days to get rid of the infection).

Prevention is the only way to go

Tip 1: Control of high blood pressure and diabetes

Management of diabetes and high blood pressure is an essential requirement to prevent the kidneys from contracting an infection,

since a damaged kidney, as a result of high blood sugar and/or high blood pressure, is always prone to get urinary tract infection.

Tip 2: Lifestyle changes may help prevent UTIs

  • Drink plenty of water everyday.
  • Do not drink fluids that irritate the bladder, such as alcohol
  • and caffeine.
  • Genital area must be kept clean
  • Urinate before and after sexual activity.
  • Urinate when you feel the need; don’t resist the urge
  • to urinate.
  • Take showers instead of tub baths.

Text courtesy: Archana and Priyanka, Department of Prevention of Kidney Diseases, www.mvdiabetes.com