Bladder Control Problems in Women With Type 2 Diabetes

American Diabetes Association
Prevalence of risk factors for urinary incontinence in women with type 2 diabetes and impaired fasting glucose: findings from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2001-2002, by J.S. Brown and colleagues. Diabetes Care 29:1307–1312, 2006.

What is the problem and what is known about it so far?

The chances of having urinary incontinence, or poor bladder control, is much higher in women who have diabetes than in women who don’t have diabetes. There have not been many studies on whether women with pre-diabetes, or impaired fasting glucose that can lead to diabetes, also have a higher chance of having urinary incontinence.

Why did the researchers do this particular study?

The researchers wanted to find out how much more likely it is for a woman with type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes to develop poor bladder control, and they also wanted to find out which risk factors may be behind this.

Who was studied?

The 2001-2002 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) measured glucose levels and got information about diabetes and urinary incontinence from 1,461 women who were 20 years old or older.

How was the study done?

The women were tested for diabetes and impaired fasting glucose. The women reported how long they had diabetes, whether they used oral diabetes drugs, whether they used insulin, whether they had been diagnosed with diabetes complications, such as eye damage or nerve damage. The women also reported whether they have ever had bladder control problems and how often.

What did the researchers find?

The researchers found that women with diabetes and women with impaired fasting glucose had bladder control problems more often. One out of three women reported having urinary incontinence at least once a week.

Having microvascular complications (complications that affect small blood vessels), such as nerve damage, eye damage, and kidney damage, increase the risk of developing urinary incontinence. Having high blood glucose levels and being overweight were also found to be risk factors.

What were the limitations of the study?

The main limitation of this study is that the researchers only used one measurement of blood glucose to determine diabetes or impaired fasting glucose instead of using two tests taken on two separate days. So some women might have been misclassified as having diabetes or impaired fasting glucose.
What are the implications of the study?

Doctors do not always check for urinary incontinence. Doctors should be alert to urinary incontinence during a patient visit so that they can recommend ways to help make it better. Diagnosing urinary incontinence as a diabetes complication might help women make healthy lifestyle changes to prevent this problem and other diabetes-related problems.

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