If You Notice This in the Bathroom, Get Checked for Diabetes, Experts Say

Your toilet may be giving you a signal about your blood sugar.

The number of people with diabetes in the U.S. has reached epidemic proportions: 1 in 10 people are affected, and about a quarter of those are undiagnosed, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Many diabetics live with the disease or prediabetes for years without realizing it, but early detection can be the difference between being able to manage your symptoms with diet and lifestyle changes or having to be on medication—or even worse, suffering from serious complications like stroke, hearing and vision loss, and kidney disease.

The sooner a diabetic starts dealing with their blood sugar levels, the greater chance they have at managing the disease, so knowing what to look out for is key. While most early symptoms of diabetes show up in your body, there is one surprising signal that could indicate an issue that may come from your bathroom—more specifically, your toilet. Read on to find out what your commode may be telling you about your health.

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Mildew or mold in your toilet may be a sign you have diabetes.

white hand cleaning toilet with toilet brush

Having to constantly scrub your toilet may be more than just a bothersome chore. If you're noticing more frequent gunk build-up along the waterline, it could be a sign that someone using it has diabetes. After writing into a home advice column in The Washington Post, a reader looking to solve her dirty toilets issue ("they are 'behaving' unlike any toilet I have ever had") was given an answer she most likely didn't expect. Instead of offering cleaning advice, home expert Jeanne Huber told the reader she should probably schedule a doctor's visit.

"It sounds like you have mildew growing around the water line," Huber wrote. "It may have nothing to do with the toilet design, but may actually be a tip that someone in your house may have undiagnosed diabetes or diabetes that is not under good control. People with diabetes cannot process glucose properly, causing urine to have excess sugar—an ideal food for mildew. Diabetes has serious health consequences, which get worse the longer the disease remains untreated. So your first step might be a call to your doctor's office."

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Diabetes can cause glycosuria.

hand flushing toilet closeup
winnond / Shutterstock

Huber may not be a doctor, but she could be on to something. When your blood is filtered through your kidneys, it carries the glucose that is in your bloodstream. "Your kidneys are then responsible for filtering blood by removing wastes and excess fluid and returning the cleaned blood back to the body, filtering the rest to the bladder to be excreted in your urine," reports VeryWellHealth. But if you have diabetes, your blood sugar levels are higher than normal, and your kidneys are forced to work overtime. When your kidneys can't keep up, the sugar ends up in your urine. And when the amount of sugar in urine is greater than 25 mg/dL, it is considered glycosuria, a symptom of diabetes.

A few other things may cause glycosuria besides diabetes and prediabetes: kidney disease, pregnancy, and a rare, benign hereditary condition called renal glycosuria.

This can create an environment where mold thrives.

woman holding her pee

Though there are no scientific studies that directly link mold growing in your toilet to diabetes, Healthline reports that it is very probable, because—as Huber said in her column—mold and mildew "can use sugars like glucose as a food source." People with diabetes also urinate more often, so there will be even more of these sugars for mold and mildew to feed on. "The combination of these factors is believed to create an environment where molds can grow and thrive," says Healthline. "Therefore, people with undiagnosed or poorly managed diabetes could notice mold rings in their toilet more often."

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Here are other early signs of diabetes to look out for.

Doctor talking to woman with serious tone

It is important to keep in mind that a ring of mold in your toilet doesn't necessarily mean you have diabetes. Mildew thrives in damp environments and could be caused by factors that have nothing to do with your health, like the toilet bowl water standing for long periods of time or just plain not cleaning it enough. But it's always a good idea to check in with your doctor if you have any concerns, especially if the mold in your toilet is coupled with other common symptoms of diabetes, like excessive thirst and increased urination.

Per WebMD, some of the other early sign of diabetes to be aware of include hunger, fatigue, dry mouth, itchy skin, and blurred vision. Experiencing burning or itching when you use the bathroom could also signal there is an issue, along with lesser know indications like brown spots or lesions on your shins, and thick or waxy skin on your fingers.

RELATED: If You See This on Your Feet, You May Have Diabetes, Doctors Say.

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