Certain illnesses can cause health problems that you might not think are related, including overactive bladder. Diabetes can affect many parts of your body, and your bladder may be one of them.

One of the common complications from diabetes is nerve damage. Some people experience this with a pins-and-needles feeling in their feet, for example. But this nerve damage (called diabetic neuropathy) can happen anywhere in the body, including the bladder. It’s estimated that up to one-fifth of people with type 2 diabetes also have symptoms of an overactive bladder—and the older the person, the higher this risk.

Symptom confusion

One of the symptoms of diabetes is the need to urinate often. So if you need to go to the bathroom a lot, it wouldn’t be unusual to think that these frequent trips to the bathroom are because of the diabetes itself. But frequent urination could be caused by diabetic neuropathy. As the nerves become damaged in the bladder, mixed signals are sent to the brain. You feel like you have to urinate, but there’s not much urine.

If you are just beginning to experience symptoms of having to urinate often, it’s best to speak to your doctor or nurse practitioner about this. People with diabetes are also at higher risk of developing urinary tract infections, also called bladder infections or cystitis. One of the symptoms of these infections is the frequent need to urinate. Bladder infections should always be taken seriously because the infection could spread up to the kidneys.

Other illnesses and overactive bladder

Diabetes is just one cause of overactive bladder. Others include:

· Side effects of some medications

· Diseases that affect the nervous system, such as multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s disease

· Enlarged prostate

· Chronic constipation

· Drinking too much caffeine or alcohol

Having an overactive bladder can be uncomfortable and it can affect your quality of life, but you don’t have to suffer in silence. If you are going to the bathroom eight or more times a day, getting up two or more times every night to urinate, or if you are finding that you can’t control your urine flow, this should be professionally checked. There may be a simple solution for you, depending on what is causing the overactive bladder.