Diabetes and Urinary Tract Infections

Q. I frequently get urinary tract infections. Is there a link between diabetes and UTIs?

A. Some people are more prone to getting a urinary tract infection, and people with diabetes are more at risk for developing a UTI than those who do not have diabetes. That’s because diabetes suppresses the immune system. One reason is because poor circulation in those with diabetes decreases the mobility of infection-fighting white blood cells, as well as their effectiveness in killing bacteria.

People with diabetes also have a greater chance of developing kidney stones, which can block the flow of urine in the urinary tract and cause infection.

Urinary tract infections are the second most common type of infection in the body, and women are much more susceptible to UTIs than men. According to statistics, about 20 percent of all women will experience a UTI during her lifetime. And studies have shown that diabetic women are two to three times more likely to have bacteria in their bladders than those who are not diabetic. Moreover, this bacteria is more likely to travel into the kidneys in diabetic patients, and diabetic women with UTIs are also more likely to be hospitalized with the condition than non-diabetic women.