If You Notice This In The Bathroom, It Could Be an Early Sign of Diabetes, Experts Say
Diabetics are twice as likely to develop the conditions associated with this symptom.
You may know that diabetes can wreak havoc on your blood sugar levels, but many people are unaware of just how diverse the condition's symptoms can be. As it turns out, elevated blood sugar can lead to a range of seemingly unrelated conditions, including cardiovascular disease, nerve damage, hearing or vision loss, and Alzheimer's, to name just a few.
Now, experts are saying there's one more surprising condition that's linked with diabetes—and you may notice its symptoms when you go to the bathroom. Read on to find out what doctors say to look out for, and why you need extra care if diabetes is the underlying cause.
If you experience itching or burning when you urinate, it may be due to underlying diabetes.
If you notice itching or burning when you use the restroom, two common culprits are yeast infections and urinary tract infections. And, if you find that you experience either type of infection frequently, undiagnosed diabetes may be to blame.
"High sugar levels within the urine are a breeding ground for bacteria and yeast," explains UNC Health Care. "People with diabetes are twice as likely to suffer from these types of infections," their experts note.
UTIs are also more dangerous for diabetics.
UTIs can affect any part of the urinary tract—including kidneys, urethra, and bladder—and they're a common occurrence for those with diabetes, thanks to a range of complications associated with the illness. "Various impairments in the immune system, poor metabolic control, and incomplete bladder emptying due to autonomic neuropathy may all contribute to the enhanced risk of urinary tract infections in these patients," a study published in the medical journal Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity: Targets and Therapy notes. "All types of UTI are more frequent in patients with type 2 diabetes," the study's researchers add.
That same study found that, in addition to diabetic individuals suffering from UTIs more frequently, they are also more likely to experience serious symptoms from their infection. "Diabetes is also associated with worse outcomes of UTI, including longer hospitalizations and increased mortality," says the study.
And yeast infections are harder to fight off for those with uncontrolled diabetes.
In those with diabetes, there is "a definite association" between one's likelihood of yeast infection and how well-controlled their diabetes is, Vincent Woo, MD, a Canada-based endocrinologist tells Everyday Health. Though men can also experience yeast infections, women are more likely to develop the infection thanks to an increased level of blood sugar in the mucus within their reproductive system.
According to Daniel Einhorn, MD, a former president of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists and medical director of the Scripps Whittier Diabetes Institute in San Diego, this problem can be compounded by inadequately controlled diabetes. "Some women, especially those with poorly controlled diabetes, have some compromise in their ability to fight off any infection," Einhorn explained to Everyday Health. This means that on top of yeast infections being more common in diabetic patients, they are also harder to treat.
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Here's how to tell the difference between the two.
While both UTIs and yeast infections may share the symptom of burning during urination, their symptoms are otherwise distinct. Knowing the difference between the two can help you receive the care you need—likely antibiotics in the case of a UTI, and an oral or topical antifungal treatment in the case of a yeast infection.
Those with a UTI are likely to experience frequent urination; cloudy or discolored urine; pain or tenderness in the lower back, sides, or abdomen; and in more severe cases, fever, chills, or vomiting.
Yeast infections may cause pain during urination or sex; burning, itching, or swelling in the genitals; and in women, a thick, white discharge that produces no odor.
Speak with your doctor if you notice any of these symptoms—especially if you have or suspect underlying diabetes.