Your Bladder and Kidneys

People with diabetes are at risk of bladder and kidney infections; however, maintaining good blood glucose control and keeping your blood pressure at a healthy level will reduce this risk.

Bladder and kidney infections are more common in women because of the short length of the urethra, which is the tube taking urine from the bladder to the outside of the body. The urine and vaginal secretions often contain increased amounts of glucose, particularly if the level of the glucose in the blood has been high. This provides an environment in which germs (bacteria and fungi) can grow. It is possible for germs to be forced backwards up this tube during sexual intercourse, so to help prevent infection empty the bladder after sexual intercourse.

If the nerves to the bladder have been damaged by diabetes, the bladder may not empty completely leaving germs that may multiply.

Symptoms & Treatment of a Bladder or Kidney Infection

Prompt treatment of bladder and kidney infections is important. If left untreated, these infections may result in chronic kidney damage. In most cases antibiotics taken by mouth effectively treat infections.

If you notice any of the following symptoms of a bladder or kidney infection contact your doctor immediately:

  • Passing of small amounts of urine at more frequent intervals, day and night
  • A burning discomfort or pain when passing urine
  • Backache.

This is not an exhaustive list of symptoms and sometimes you may not even have any symptoms at all. If you notice that something isn’t right, always check with your doctor.

Kidney Damage

The good news is that detection of early kidney damage is possible by testing the rate at which the kidneys are leaking a protein called albumin into the urine. The urine is tested with a special test strip in the laboratory. See your doctor immediately if you have any of the above signs of bladder or kidney infection.

If kidney damage is detected, high blood pressure medications called ACE inhibitors (medicines to treat high blood pressure and heart disease) help protect the kidneys from further kidney damage.

For more information: contact Kidney Health Australia.

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