How Diabetes Can Affect Bladder Control

Diabetes can change your bladder control. Over time, diabetes can damage the nerves and muscles that control the bladder. This can lead to an overactive bladder or an underactive bladder. It can happen in both men and women.

Symptoms of an overactive bladder include:

  • Needing to pee (urinate) more often (8 or more times a day)

  • Needing to get up often at night to pee

  • Having a sudden, strong urge to pee  

  • Leaking urine after a sudden urge

An overactive bladder can be treated. Types of treatment include: 

  • Exercises to strengthen the muscles that hold in urine

  • Electrical stimulation

  • Medicine

  • Surgery for more severe cases

People with diabetes can also lose the urge to pee. This condition is known as an underactive bladder. They may not be able to fully empty the bladder. They may have a lot of urinary tract infections. They may only be able to pee in small amounts at a time. This is called dribbling or a weak stream. Medicine, surgery, and habit changes may be used to treat these underactive bladder symptoms.

Smoking and being overweight raise your risk of these bladder problems. Some medicines can make it hard to start peeing and keep it going. These include medicines taken to control blood pressure. One type of diabetes medicines lowers blood sugar by raising the amount of blood sugar in the urine. These medicines are called SGLT-2 inhibitors. People taking these medicines are at higher risk for fungal infections.

Online Medical Reviewer: Marianne Fraser MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Raymond Kent Turley BSN MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Robert Hurd MD
Date Last Reviewed: 2/1/2021
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