Diabetes and Incontinence: Top Causes and Solutions

Jessica Lubahn 11 min read

Diabetes and Incontinence: Top Causes and Solutions

If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, you probably experience some common symptoms like frequent thirst and urination. On top of that, perhaps you are beginning to deal with incontinence, which is terribly frustrating and inconvenient.

You’re certain there’s a link, but you want to know: 

  • Can diabetes cause incontinence?
  • What can I do about it?

We’ll discuss diabetes and how it contributes to incontinence, and we’ll outline some solutions that can help you deal with incontinence while still living your life to the fullest.

Table of Contents

diabetes and incontinence

Does Diabetes Cause Incontinence?

Yes, diabetes can contribute to incontinence. 

A 2009 study showed that women in the study had a two-fold increased risk of incontinence compared with those participants who did not have diabetes.

Diabetes has a correlation to incontinence for a variety of reasons like:

We can better understand how diabetes affects incontinence by looking at some of these factors in more detail.

5 Links Between Incontinence and Diabetes Mellitus 

Diabetes mellitus is the most common form of diabetes and has to do with how your body uses and regulates blood sugar. The most common types of diabetes mellitus include:

  • Type I
  • Type II; and 
  • Gestational diabetes

Though they have different underlying causes, all of them can cause your body to have too much sugar in the blood. And this can cause significant health issues.

Some of the most common symptoms of diabetes mellitus include:

  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Increased hunger
  • Blurred vision
  • Numbness of the extremities
  • Fatigue
  • And more

#1: Diabetes-Related Obesity

It’s well known and documented that many patients with diabetes may also struggle with extra weight. Studies show that 85.2% of Type 2 diabetes patients are overweight or obese with a body mass index (BMI) over 25.

Overweight and obese individuals may also have an increased waist-to-hip ratio, which means they are carrying extra weight around their middle. This can mean extra pressure in the lower abdomen and bladder, causing what is known as stress incontinence.

You may experience stress incontinence if pee escapes your bladder when you sneeze, cough, laugh, or take part in physical activity like running or jumping.

If this sounds like you, ONDRwear may be just what you need to catch those untimely leaks, so you can feel fresh and confident no matter what activity you’re involved in.

does diabetes cause incontinence

#2: Increased Risk of UTIs

Diabetes is a disease that affects the body in a myriad of ways. 

One of the effects experienced by many diabetes patients is a lower immune system response, leaving them at higher risk for infections like:

  • Yeast infections
  • Skin infections
  • Bladder infections; and
  • Urinary tract infections (UTIs)

If you’ve ever had a UTI, you know the unpleasant symptoms of …

  • Pressure on the bladder
  • Frequent urge to urinate; and
  • Urinary leakage

… are also similar to the symptoms of urinary incontinence. 

If you struggle with recurring UTIs, you may experience damage to the bladder, further complicating the diabetes/incontinence dilemma.

#3: Nerve Damage Caused by High Blood Sugar

The higher sugar levels of diabetes patients damage small blood vessels and nerves throughout the body. Many diabetes patients experience autonomic neuropathy in their hands and feet, but neuropathy can also affect the bladder. 

Over time, people start losing sensation in their bladder, which means it doesn’t contract as well and makes it harder to empty. This type of neuropathy in the bladder results in less frequent visits to the restroom and more leaks or feelings of urgency. 

On top of that, nerve damage caused by high blood sugar can exacerbate underlying problems like pelvic floor issues or an overactive bladder. 

Urine retention is another issue that can develop with diabetes. It’s like a sink that holds running water from a faucet. Eventually, it will overflow because it’s draining slower than the water coming in. 

That’s what it’s like when your bladder goes into retention — you can’t pee and end up leaking frequently. The bladder becomes so full that even the slightest pressure makes it overflow. 

#4: Reactions to Diabetes Medications

Many medications have side effects. Though some diabetes medications help with diabetes, they may have adverse effects related to both bladder and bowel incontinence. 

Some diabetes medications work by pushing glucose out through the urine, which can cause bladder irritation and lead to incontinence.

If you are taking diabetes medication that you think may be contributing to incontinence, you should talk to your doctor, who can prescribe a different medication or one that can treat your incontinence issues.

#5: Excessive Thirst Caused by Diabetes

Excessive thirst is a common symptom of diabetes and is often the first symptom someone will notice when developing the disease.

When you have diabetes, your body is working hard to get rid of the excess sugar in your blood, which causes you to urinate more often. When you’re going to the bathroom a lot, you get thirsty more often to keep up with your body’s fluid production.

It’s a vicious cycle — the more urine you make, the more of a problem it will cause if you have issues with overflow, stress incontinence, or frequent urges.

Excessive thirst followed by excessive fluid intake can also contribute to nocturia, which is when you wake up several times during the night to go to the bathroom. Not only is it inconvenient, but it can also make it hard to go back to sleep and can irritate your bladder.

How Diabetes Insipidus Causes Incontinence 

Diabetes insipidus is rarer than diabetes mellitus. It has nothing to do with high levels of blood sugar, like diabetes mellitus, but is directly related to an overproduction of urine. Most people produce one to three quarts of urine, while someone with diabetes insipidus may produce up to twenty quarts a day.

This form of diabetes is caused by an issue in the brain which causes the thirst centers to turn off. Someone with diabetes insipidus may be fully hydrated but is constantly thirsty and thus produces an overabundance of urine.

This rare disease could also be caused by:

  • Medicines
  • Pituitary issues
  • Psychiatric issues; and 
  • Kidney issues

Nephrogenic diabetes insipidus is a disorder that is caused when the kidneys can’t concentrate the urine produced by the body. When you’re dehydrated, your body works to keep as much fluid in your body as possible. So instead of making urine, your kidneys recycle it to keep it stored. This results in your kidneys constantly pouring out diluted urine, making you extra thirsty and needing to pee all the time.

ONDRwear can give you the confidence and protection you long for, regardless of the cause of your incontinence. 

ONDRwear leak-proof underwear for men and women is odor-free and ultra-absorbent, holding 25% more than leading brands. They’re soft and comfortable, so you can keep dry in style.

does diabetes cause incontinence

5 Ways to Deal With Diabetes Incontinence

Though diabetes can be challenging by itself, adding incontinence on top of it can be downright discouraging. 

The good news is that there are solutions that can help those dealing with diabetes and urine incontinence. 

It’s important to understand why you experience incontinence, so you should talk with your general physician or urologist to figure out the cause of your incontinence. Armed with the right knowledge, you and your doctors can work together to formulate a management plan that will work for you.

Some solutions you may discuss include:

  • Bladder retraining
  • Medications
  • Diet and lifestyle changes
  • Pelvic floor exercises; and
  • Using incontinence products

#1: Bladder Retraining

Bladder retraining is a simple method that can be effective without the use of medications or invasive surgical procedures.

The goal of this method is to train your bladder to be emptied at longer intervalsevery two hours is considered normal.

Bladder retraining works best when you start with a bladder diary to record your fluid intake and urine output. Once you have an idea of how often you are going to the bathroom, you can slowly begin to lengthen the intervals between each bathroom visit.

It may take a bit of patience and a longer length of time than you’d like, but you may find you have better control over your bladder over time.

#2: Medications

There are a variety of medications that you and your doctor may discuss to treat diabetes incontinence. Different medications work in specific ways to treat the disease based on the underlying cause. 

Depending on the cause of incontinence and the type of diabetes, doctors may choose some of the following medications to treat their patients and ease symptoms:

  • Betmiga is a medication that acts as a muscle relaxer and may be prescribed when other treatments haven’t worked.
  • Anticholinergic drugs work by blocking nerve receptors, which can help lessen the urge to pee.
  • Antibiotics may be used if the cause of the incontinence is an infection like a UTI or yeast infection.

#3: Diet and Lifestyle Changes

A healthy diet and moderate physical activity are beneficial for those who suffer from diabetes, incontinence, or both.

Eating a healthy, balanced diet rich in fiber and including foods like …

  • Whole-grain carbs
  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Berries; and
  • Vegetables

… can help keep the bladder healthy and functioning optimally. It’s also important to stay hydrated by drinking at least six to eight glasses of water a day.

Additionally, you’d do well to limit the following foods that can irritate the bladder and raise blood sugar levels:

  • Caffeine
  • Spicy foods
  • Fruits high in acid, like grapefruit and pineapple
  • Alcohol
  • Carbonated drinks; and 
  • Dairy

Eating right is only half of the formula. 

It’s also important to stay active and get regular exercise to control diabetes and reduce pressure on the bladder. Moderate exercise three to five times a week is a great way to stay strong and reduce diabetes and incontinence symptoms. 

When you participate in physical activity you enjoy, it’s much easier to stay motivated and active. Consider adding some of the following activities to your weekly routine:

  • Walking
  • Biking
  • Swimming
  • Team sports like pickleball or tennis
  • Strength exercises
  • Yoga
  • And more

#4: Pelvic Floor Exercises

I know what you’re thinking: “Please don’t tell me to do more Kegel exercises!”

Kegel exercises have their place, but there are other pelvic floor exercise options that can provide many of the same benefits as Kegels.

A simple Google search can provide a short list of exercises to try. For a more comprehensive approach, a pelvic floor physical therapist can give guidance on the types of exercises that may be most effective.

#5: Use of Top-Notch Incontinence Products

Products like intermittent catheters may be helpful and necessary in extreme situations and can provide relief by completely emptying the bladder. They are self-inserted and are used only when you are ready to urinate. Intermittent catheters can provide comfort between bathroom visits and may also reduce the risk of UTIs.

However, if your symptoms are mild or you aren’t ready for more drastic measures, incontinence products that you wear like underwear can be a great option. 

Some products are bulky and uncomfortable, but ONDRwear has created discreet leak-proof underwear that is comfortable and absorbent without the extra bulk.

incontinence and diabetes

Don’t Let Diabetes and Urinary Incontinence Keep You From Living Your Best Life — Check Out Leak-Proof ONDRwear

Wouldn’t it be amazing to walk out the door knowing that no matter how your bladder decides to behave, you’ll be protected and leak-free all day? It’s possible with ONDRwear incontinence underwear.

Here’s what makes them so great; they are:

  • Super absorbent
  • Odor-free
  • Made with plant-based materials
  • Soft and comfortable
  • Available for men and women
  • Offered in a variety of styles and sizes

Layers are the secret of ONDRwear’s construction. 

  1. The layers are specially designed with modal algae lining, which is breathable and anti-microbial.
  2. The hydrophilic one-way absorption pulls the liquid away from you for a dry feeling all day.
  3. The thin layers hold up to nine teaspoons of liquid — 25% more than the leading brand.
  4. Layers are made with nylon and spandex to move with you without the need for tugging and pulling.

With rewards like … 

  • ONDRperks
  • Free shipping; and 
  • Other money-saving offers

… you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. You’ll especially gain the confidence and security that comes with knowing you’re wearing the best incontinence underwear available.