There are several bodily functions that many of us take for granted because they happen automatically without us even needing to think about it.
Breathing, blinking, digestion, and countless other processes keep us alive, healthy, and comfortable.
When one of these normally automatic processes becomes disrupted, it can negatively impact your quality of life.
Your body’s ability to regulate your blood sugar is an example of one of these automatic functions.
Having diabetes means your body can no longer effectively balance your blood sugar levels on its own. Besides high blood sugar levels, diabetes can cause symptoms like frequent urination.
Diabetes is derived from the Greek word meaning “to siphon or pass-through.” It’s most often associated with urination.
There are two main health conditions with diabetes in their name – diabetes mellitus and diabetes insipidus. “Mellitus” is from the Latin word meaning “honeyed or sweet,” so diabetes mellitus refers to increased output of sweet-smelling urine.
Diabetes mellitus is usually just referred to as diabetes. There are two types – type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes. Of the two, type 2 diabetes is by far the most common. Diabetes mellitus is a chronic disease of impaired blood sugar regulation.
Type 2 diabetes occurs when your body doesn’t effectively respond to the hormone insulin. Insulin is produced by your pancreas and helps lower blood glucose (blood sugar) levels. Without enough insulin, blood sugar levels increase to an unhealthy level.
High blood sugar levels cause several health problems over time. Some of the possible complications from diabetes include heart disease, kidney disease, nerve damage, poorly healing wounds, and increased risk of infections.
Being overweight and having a sedentary lifestyle are some of the many known risk factors for type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes can be managed with lifestyle changes and/or medications.
On the other hand, type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder with few known risk factors. With type 1 diabetes, the immune system mistakenly attacks the insulin-secreting cells in the pancreas.
When these cells are damaged, they can’t be replaced. This causes an insulin deficiency and very high blood sugars that must be treated with injectable insulin.
Even though type 1 and type 2 diabetes are different, they share similar symptoms. Some of the symptoms of high blood sugar and diabetes are increased thirst, increased urination, increased hunger, unintentional weight loss, and fatigue.
What is Frequent Urination?
Frequent urination is the term for urinating more often than is normal for you. The medical term for frequent urination is polydipsia.
Frequent urination might mean passing a larger volume of urine than normal, urinating more often than normal (not necessarily increased volume), or both.
You might notice you have frequent urination when you wake up at night to urinate, which is called nocturia. Nocturia can impact your quality of sleep and might lead to daytime tiredness and other issues.
Frequent urination can become a nuisance and quickly impact your quality of life. While frequent urination is one of the symptoms of diabetes, other health conditions can also be the culprit, such as:
- Thyroid issues
- Overactive bladder
- Interstitial cystitis (pain in the bladder/pelvic region)
- Use of diuretics to control high blood pressure
- Stroke or other neurological diseases
- Diabetes insipidus (a rare condition where the body makes too much urine)
The Link Between Frequent Urination and Diabetes
Frequent urination/polydipsia is one of the symptoms of very high blood sugar. It’s usually one of the symptoms of undiagnosed diabetes. If you have existing diabetes and notice frequent urination, it can signify that your blood sugar is very high.
If you don’t get screened for blood sugar problems like prediabetes and diabetes, it’s difficult to know if your blood sugar is at a healthy level. You usually won’t experience frequent urination until your blood sugar level is so high that you develop diabetes.
Prediabetes is when your blood glucose is higher than normal but not high enough to be diabetes. It is a strong risk factor for getting type 2 diabetes later on. Prediabetes usually doesn’t have symptoms though some people might notice similar symptoms as diabetes, including frequent urination.
What Causes Frequent Urination in Diabetics?
The average person has a urine output of around 800-2,000 milliliters per day, but polyuria is a urine output of greater than 3,000 ml (3 liters) per day.
Very high blood sugar levels cause frequent urination in people with diabetes. If you have diabetes and your blood sugar levels are well-controlled, you shouldn’t suffer from frequent urination unless you have other health conditions that cause it.
When your blood sugar is high, there is more glucose in your urine. High glucose in urine pulls water from the body, increasing the volume of urine output. This is part of your body’s way of getting rid of excess sugar when there isn’t enough insulin to do the job.
The kidneys usually filter and reabsorb glucose in your urine. With type 2 diabetes, the kidneys have to work harder than normal and can’t keep up with the high sugar levels, causing it to be excreted in the urine.
When blood sugar levels are high and you’re urinating more, it causes dehydration. Dehydration stimulates thirst, causing you to drink more fluids. Drinking more fluids can cause more urination on top of the already increased urination from diabetes. These two issues can cycle off each other in a continuous loop.
If you have gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy), then you might get a double dose of frequent urination. Even without diabetes, pregnancy increases urination due to hormonal changes and increasing fluid levels.
As pregnancy progresses and the baby grows bigger, this puts more pressure on your bladder, causing you to urinate more often.
Another potential reason you might have frequent urination is diabetic kidney disease. Urinating at night is especially indicative of kidney disease, according to the National Kidney Foundation.
Kidney disease damages the blood vessels of the kidneys, which filter waste and produce urine. If your kidneys can’t filter waste (including glucose), then more glucose will leak into the urine.
Urinary tract infection (UTI)
Having diabetes increases the risk of urinary tract infections. Higher levels of glucose in the urine feed bacteria, which can lead to infections.
Having diabetes also increases the risk of infection, which further increases the chance that high urine glucose can result in a UTI.
5 Ways To Reduce Frequent Urination From Diabetes
The best way to reduce frequent urination related to diabetes is to keep your blood sugar level under control. When blood sugar levels are at a healthy level, your body won’t be trying as hard to rid itself of the extra sugar in your urine.
Here are some things to consider to improve your blood sugar control and reduce frequent urination.
1) Aim for sustainable weight loss.
Losing weight if you’re overweight can help improve blood sugar levels and reduce frequent urination.
You might notice weight loss just by making some healthy lifestyle changes. Sustainable, non-restrictive habit changes resulting in weight loss are the best way to lose weight.
Weight loss of 5-10% of your initial body weight can help people with prediabetes avoid developing diabetes and can improve blood glucose control in people with existing diabetes. For a 200-pound person, that would equate to a 10-20 pound weight loss.
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2) Take medications as prescribed.
If your healthcare provider prescribed medications for your diabetes, it’s important to take them as prescribed. Medications help lower blood sugar levels and can help combat insulin resistance. When your blood sugar levels improve, your urinary frequency should also improve.
If you also have high blood pressure, be sure to take any blood pressure medications as prescribed. Chronic high blood pressure can damage the kidneys, which can further impair their ability to filter and reabsorb extra glucose.
3) Get regular exercise.
Being physically active provides numerous health benefits that are especially important for diabetes. Getting enough exercise can help you manage your weight, lower cholesterol levels, improve overall blood sugar control, and promote healthy blood pressure levels.
Aim to get 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week. Pick something you enjoy so you can be consistent instead of choosing an unsustainable exercise routine.
4) Monitor blood sugar levels regularly.
Checking your blood sugar levels at home is an important part of diabetes management. Monitoring blood sugar regularly helps provide insight into your blood sugar trends, including how your blood sugar responds to different lifestyle factors like diet, sleep, and exercise.
People who check their blood sugar between visits with their healthcare providers tend to have better blood sugar control.
5) Get enough sleep.
Sleep deprivation can wreak havoc on your health, including your blood sugar. People who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to have insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.
Aim to get more than six hours of sleep but not more than nine hours per night, which are both (too little sleep and too much sleep) associated with insulin resistance.
To help you get better, higher-quality sleep, try to limit fluids close to bedtime. This is especially important if you’re already suffering from frequent urination; drinking more fluids in the evening hours before bedtime can have you waking up multiple times a night, even in the absence of blood sugar problems.
Frequent urination is when you urinate more often than is normal for you. People with frequent urination typically notice it the most when they wake up in the middle of the night to urinate, which is nocturia. There are many potential causes of frequent urination.
High blood sugar levels and diabetes can cause frequent urination. The main cause of frequent urination is your body increasing urine output to rid itself of the extra sugar when blood sugar is high.
Uncontrolled diabetes increases the likelihood of frequent urination, so having diabetes doesn’t mean you’re destined to have frequent urination.
The best way to reduce diabetes-related frequent urination is to get blood sugar levels under control. Taking diabetes medications as prescribed, being physically active, practicing good sleep hygiene, and monitoring blood sugar levels regularly are all ways to improve blood sugar levels, helping to combat frequent urination.