Diabetes and Incontinence, What's the Connection?

Diabetes and Incontinence are connected.  
Diabetes and incontinence are connected, having diabetes increases the risk and severity of both fecal and urinary incontinence. Let’s take a look at why, and what the connection is exactly:

Diabetes greatly increases the risk for incontinence, but not all diabetics are incontinent, and not all incontinence is diabetes related. It is possible to have both without a connection. However, there are many ways diabetes is connected to incontinence.

Connection one: Obesity.
Many people with diabetes also struggle with obesity. Diabetes makes it more difficult to lose weight, and the increased weight placed on the pelvic floor muscles is often a cause of stress incontinence. The added weight make it so sneezes, laughs, coughs, and other actions that place stress on the bladder will cause a leak. Many studies have shown that weight loss can improve incontinence.

Connection two: Nerve damage.
Nerve damage in the bladder and bowels can cause incontinence in a number of ways. For example, it can lead to bladder over-activity, or urge incontinence, or the opposite, with decreased sensitivity, making it so the person can’t tell when they need to go. What does any of this have to do with diabetes? Diabetes can affect nerve function, including the nerves in the bladder and bowel.

Connection three: Weakened bladder muscle.
 Severe or long-term diabetes can lead to a weakening of the bladder muscle, making it difficult for the bladder to completely empty with each urination. This can lead to inflections, overflow incontinence, urge incontinence, and more.

Connection four: Increased urine production.
When an individual has diabetes, blood sugar levels must be carefully controlled. If they are not well managed, and blood sugar runs high, the body tries to manage it by getting rid of the extra glucose through excreting it via urine. This can lead to an over-production of urine, and overflow incontinence.
Connection five: Mobility challenges.
Many with diabetes have mobility challenges, this can be from diabetic neuropathy, amputation, vision issues, and more. This lack of mobility can lead to functional incontinence, where the individual has difficulty reaching the bathroom, or removing clothes in time to use the toilet.

Connection six: Medications.
Most people with diabetes are on medications. These may be for the diabetes themselves, or for some of the complications related to diabetes. Some diabetic medications lead to fluid retention and congestive heart failure, leading to increased production of urine at night. This means frequent trips to the bathroom at night, and for many, nighttime urinary incontinence. ACE inhibitors, which are used to treat high blood pressure in people with diabetes can often lead to a chronic cough, and cause stress incontinence. Calcium channel blockers, used for hypertension (high blood pressure), a common problem for diabetics, make it difficult for the bladder to contract and empty completely leading to overflow incontinence.

Connection seven: Constipation.
Constipation is a problem that affects 60% of people with diabetes. Some medications used for hypertension cause constipation, which can lead to fecal incontinence, as well as urinary incontinence.

Connection eight: Stroke
Stroke from diabetes can lead to incontinence as it often affects bladder sensation and the muscle function that holds urine. In addition, those who have suffered a stroke often struggle with functional incontinence as well, as it is difficult to reach a bathroom, or use it themselves.

As you can see, there are a lot of ways diabetes can increase risk for incontinence, so what can be done to prevent this? The best way is to do what you can to prevent diabetes. The second is to work hard to manage diabetes and limit the associated medical conditions such as hypertension, obesity, and high cholesterol. Managing your diabetes, controlling blood sugars, and focusing on a healthy lifestyle with diet and exercise can reduce the risks of incontinence. 

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About The CareGiver Partnership.
The CareGiver Partnership helps caregivers and their loved ones with answers to their caregiving questions, including information about home health care products and supplies, from our Wisconsin-based team of Product Specialists who are all current or former caregivers. The company’s Web site provides the largest online library of resources on subjects most important to caregivers — from arthritis to assisted living, and Parkinson’s to prostate cancer — as well as access to more than 3,000 home care products for incontinence, skin care, mobility, home safety and daily living aids. The CareGiver Partnership was founded in 2004 by Lynn Wilson of Neenah, Wisc. Visithttp://www.caregiverpartnership.com to learn more or call 1-800-985-1353.


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