How does diabetes affect continence?
Precisely how diabetes increases the frequency and severity of incontinence isn’t known, but there’s no doubt it does, especially in women. If you have diabetes, you’ll be familiar with feeling thirsty as your body tries to dilute the excess sugar in your blood. So, more fluid in means more urine out. In addition, as blood sugar builds up, and if your kidneys are struggling, excess sugar may be excreted into your urine, taking fluid from tissue with it, producing more than the average amount of urine and causing you to void more frequently.
Damage to the bladder nerves is also a possible contributor. The nerves send messages to the brain when the bladder is full and from the brain to the bladder muscles to hold or release the urine. If this information is compromised, urine may not be held well or held for too long, causing overflow incontinence. It could also mean the bladder is not emptying completely, contributing to urinary retention. Controlling blood glucose to improve urinary incontinence among women with diabetes is currently being researched.
Faecal incontinence can also be an issue. A weak pelvic floor muscle (that supports your bladder and bowel) combined with diarrhoea-inducing diabetic drugs is usually the cause.
Minimising the impact
There’s no doubt diabetes contributes to incontinence, but there are things you can do to try and avoid the onset or improve bladder and bowel control.
Discuss it with your doctor
- They may review your medication and refer you to a continence specialist
Maintaining a healthy body weight
- Having a BMI (Body Mass Index) of more than 30 is technically obese. You can read more about how obesity can contribute to incontinence here
Having a healthy diet
- As someone with diabetes, you’re probably already acutely aware of nutrition, but have a look at this TENA article on Foods and Drinks To Avoid, which highlights those known, or suspected, to irritate the bladder.
Drink plenty of water
- Drink 1 ½ to 2 litres of water over the course of the day to ensure continuous hydration
- There is no downside to physical activity; it helps keep weight off, the bowel regular and the endorphins (feel-good hormones) flowing.
- The pelvic floor muscle should also be exercised regularly for good bladder control. Instructions can be found in the TENA Exercise Zone
Good toilet habits
- Urinate only when the bladder is full and take your time to ensure it has been completely emptied. Open bowels when the urge is felt – don’t keep putting it off as it can lead to constipation
If you’re already having issues with urinary incontinence, bladder retraining to get back into good habits might be an option. Retraining works by monitoring your fluid intake and output in a diary, as well the level of ‘urge’ and gradually extending the interval between voids to reduce the frequency and increase control. Best done under the supervision of a healthcare professional, ask your doctor if it may be suitable for you.
Even if you’re starting exercises or other treatment to improve your control, you may want the security of an absorbent product. All TENA products have been designed to handle the thinner, faster flow of a weak bladder, rapidly absorbing and locking away fluid, keeping you dry and odour free.
Take advantage of our Product Finder Tool, and Free Samples find the product that best suits you.
For further information on Diabetes and Incontinence, have a look at these sites where you will also find contact numbers should you wish to speak to someone directly.
Asaleo Care makes no warranties or representations regarding the completeness or accuracy of the information. This information should be used only as a guide and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional, medical or other health professional advice.