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Why Patients with Diabetes Have More UTIs

Nov 10, 2022
diabetes and uti

Diabetes and Urinary Tract Infections: What Parents Need to Know

People with diabetes are at higher risk for urinary tract infections (UTIs) – up to 10 times higher risk! This makes them more likely to experience kidney injury as a result of UTIs.

UTIs are bacterial infections anywhere in the urinary system, including the kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra. They are more common in females than males, but anyone can get one. If the kidneys become infected, the risk of long-term damage and serious health concerns increases.

Symptoms of UTIs can vary with age, but may include fever, appetite changes, increased frequency of urination and pain with urination. For babies, a fever is possible, as are poor feeding, vomiting, irritability and jaundice (yellow skin).

Researchers have been working to understand why people with diabetes get more UTIs. They also want to learn how to help people with diabetes avoid UTIs. In 2016, researchers from Nationwide Children’s Hospital found that insulin regulates an antimicrobial peptide that is suppressed in people with diabetes. The antimicrobial peptide RNase 7 has been found to provide antimicrobial protection in the urinary tract of healthy people.

The researchers measured RNase 7 concentrations in urine samples from healthy children and children with newly diagnosed type I diabetes. The children with diabetes had significantly lower concentrations of the RNase 7 in their urine, but these levels increased approximately two- to three-fold after the children began insulin therapy. These results suggest that insulin regulates RNase 7. In 2019, they went on to demonstrate that other antimicrobial peptides, including RNase 4 and Lipocalin 2, are also regulated by insulin.

How can people with diabetes reduce their risk of UTI?

Regulating insulin is critical for managing diabetes. The research suggests that doing so will not just control diabetes symptoms but can also reduce a person’s risk of UTIs and kidney injury.

Other ways to prevent UTIs include drinking plenty of water, wiping from front to back after using the bathroom, preventing constipation, routine voiding and keeping diapers clean and dry.

If a person has frequent UTIs, their doctor may recommend taking a low dose of antibiotic as a preventative measure. The doctor may also recommend follow up with a nephrologist to make sure that the kidneys have not been injured or urologist to make sure their bladder is draining appropriately.

Visit The Kidney and Urinary Tract Center
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Abbie Roth
Abbie Roth, MWC
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Abbie Roth, MWC, is a passionate communicator of science. As the managing editor for science communication at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, she shares stories about innovative research and discovery with audiences ranging from parents to preeminent researchers and leaders.

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700 Children’s® features the most current pediatric health care information and research from our pediatric experts – physicians and specialists who have seen it all. Many of them are parents and bring a special understanding to what our patients and families experience. If you have a child – or care for a child – 700 Children’s was created especially for you.