Have you recently been diagnosed with diabetes? Do you feel like you always have to urinate? You frequent the toilet many times at night and you are always seeking the restrooms when you are out in public. You’ve heard that peeing a lot is a side effect of diabetes, but why is that?
Excessive urination in diabetes is caused by an accumulation of sugar (glucose) in the blood, which then becomes too taxing on the kidneys. The kidneys help to reabsorb sugar into the bloodstream, so when this process is compromised, frequent urination helps to eliminate the excess glucose buildup from the body.
While urinating is your body’s way of naturally excreting toxins and unwanted chemicals from the body, excessive urination also begins to flush out valuable hydrating fluids, often leaving individuals with diabetes dehydrated and with depleted energy levels.
What is excessive urination?
Excessive urination, also referred to as polyuria, is a condition in which the body urinates more often than usual, often leading to at least 8 bathroom visits within a 24-hour period. The urge may strike suddenly, causing a loss of bladder control.
An individual experiencing polyuria will also pass abnormally large amounts of urine each time of urination, typically adding up to more than 3 liters a day, compared to the normal 1 to 2 liters of daily urine output in adults.
Recognizing symptoms of polyuria
There are several factors that can influence the frequency and volume you urinate throughout the day.
Some of these factors include your age, how much fluid you drink in a day, what types of fluids you are drinking (caffeine and alcohol increase the frequency of urination), and medications (such as diuretics that help rid the body of fluids).
The most telling sign of polyuria is producing excessive amounts of urine at regular intervals throughout the day and at night. If you are concerned you may have polyuria, begin taking note of how much you drink during the day, how often you urinate, and how much urine you produce each time you use the bathroom.
Other symptoms of diabetics with frequent urination
As mentioned above, polyuria is a main symptom of diabetes, in both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. If left untreated, it has the potential of leading to severe dehydration and impaired kidney function. If you are worried the cause of your polyuria may be diabetes, it’s important to be aware of these other common diabetes symptoms:
- Fatigue: Cells are not getting adequate energy from glucose; this can leave people with diabetes feeling exhausted and depleted of energy much of the time. Dehydration further worsens fatigue.
- Weight loss: A combination of low insulin levels and difficulty absorbing sugar from the blood can lead to unintentional rapid weight loss in people with diabetes.
- Blurred vision: Fluctuating blood sugar levels cause swelling of the lens of the eyes. Over time, the retina’s blood vessels become damaged, leading to blurred vision.
- Swollen gums: Individuals with diabetes can be at a higher risk of infections, a buildup of pus, or swelling in the gums.
- Tingling: Excess blood sugar can lead to a loss of sensation in the limbs, fingers, or toes, and may be a symptom of diabetic peripheral neuropathy.
While excessive urination is one of the many symptoms associated with diabetes, other health conditions can cause this symptom, too. It is important to note that excessive urination may also be the cause of an overactive bladder (OAB), urinary tract infection (UTIs), inability to empty the bladder completely, spine issues, and/or an enlarged prostate.
Are urinary tract infections common in people with diabetes?
Yes. Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are very common in individuals with diabetes. Individuals with type 2 diabetes, especially women and older adults with diabetes are at a greater risk of developing UTIs.
If you are experiencing excessive urination and worry it might be diabetes, be sure to consult with your healthcare provider. This is especially vital if you notice other symptoms along with frequent urination.
How to treat frequent urination caused by diabetes
Polyuria can be managed by treating its underlying cause. In the case of diabetes, your healthcare provider will help you develop a treatment plan to manage and control your blood sugar levels. Common elements of a diabetes treatment plan include the following:
People with diabetes need to be aware of what they eat and how it impacts their blood sugar levels. Ensure your glucose levels don’t get too high (hyperglycemia) or too low (hypoglycemia) by monitoring your blood sugar levels frequently.
Eat a balanced diet that includes fibrous fruits and vegetables and avoid processed sugars and carbohydrates as often as possible. Minimizing acidic or spicy foods may help ease your symptoms. Lastly, avoid or limit alcohol and caffeine consumption as these are diuretics and cause water loss through urination.
Maintaining a regular exercise routine will help increase insulin sensitivity in your cells, making it easier for them to absorb glucose for energy.
Although diabetes makes this process less effective, physical activity can help to improve blood sugar level control and lower the risk of other diabetes-related complications. It is recommended to get at least 150 minutes of moderate to intense exercise each week.
Insulin is the most common diabetes treatment. With diabetes, your body has a difficult time absorbing insulin on its own, so insulin medication may be crucial to managing your blood sugar levels, specifically in lowering them. Depending on the type and severity of diabetes you have, your healthcare provider may prescribe insulin injections, an insulin pump, or an insulin inhaler.
There are many other medications for diabetes that elicit different behaviors in the body, as well. They can help the body naturally create more insulin, others break down carbohydrates for energy, and some even adjust the speed of digestion. These medications lower your blood sugar, which will result in less frequent urination.
One, in particular, called Metformin, is prescribed commonly for type 2 diabetes and helps the body use insulin more efficiently in lowering blood sugar levels. Your healthcare provider will prescribe you the best medication depending on your type, severity, and associated symptoms of diabetes.
What does diabetic urine look like?
Urine can be very telling of someone’s state of health. If you are suspicious your excessive urination may be a symptom of diabetes, not only the frequency may be an indication, but the appearance and odor of your urine is too.
Urine helps the body get rid of waste, so your diet and fluid intake strongly affect the way it looks and smells. If your urine changes odor temporarily, it’s safe to say it was caused by something you ate recently.
For example, asparagus can give urine an unusually pungent odor. Some medications and supplements may change the color of urine, oftentimes it can look like a vibrant yellow despite being well hydrated.
However, conditions, like diabetes, will cause a more consistent and noticeable change in the appearance and odor of your urine. When too much blood sugar builds up in the urine due to diabetes, it often leads to a cloudy appearance and a sweet or fruity smell. If you notice these changes in your urine, continue to monitor your symptoms, and contact your healthcare provider.
Diabetic ketoacidosis what is?
If you are noticing sweet-smelling urine, it is important to be aware of the risk of diabetic ketoacidosis. This condition occurs when an individual does not have enough insulin and may also, but not always, have very high blood sugar levels.
Insulin is a hormone in the body that helps break down glucose to use as fuel. When the body is not able to produce adequate amounts of insulin to use glucose, it begins breaking down fat instead. This causes acids called ketones to accumulate in the bloodstream, leading to diabetic ketoacidosis.
Diabetic acidosis is more common in individuals with type 1 diabetes, however, those with type 2 diabetes can develop it as well. When left untreated, diabetic ketoacidosis can be fatal and it should be considered a medical emergency. In addition to sweet-smelling urine, these are other potential symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis:
- sweet-smelling breath
- feelings of exhaustion
When to consult a doctor
It is recommended to contact your healthcare provider if you experience excessive urination over several days which cannot be explained by an increase in fluids and/or medications.
If you do not yet have a diabetes diagnosis but suspect it may be the cause of your excessive urination, along with these common symptoms of diabetes:
- Excessive thirst and/or hunger
- Blurry vision
- Unexplained weight loss
- Numb or tingling hands and feet
- Dry skin
- Sores that heal slowly
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is recommended to contact your healthcare provider immediately. From there, your healthcare provider will perform a physical exam, ask about your symptoms, and may order tests to provide you with an accurate diagnosis.
If you already have a diabetes diagnosis but continue to experience excessive urination, it may be a sign that your blood sugars are not well controlled. Speak with your healthcare provider or diabetes care specialist about revisiting your treatment plan and adjusting it to help you manage your blood sugar levels and return them to normal.
Thanks for stopping by my Dealing With Diabetes blog! My name is LeeAnna.