My diabetic mother wears Depends full absorbancy incontinence pads and has to change these 3-4 times during the night. Is this level of urine normal? Can she be fitted with a catheter device for permanent use to make day-to-day life and moving around easier for her?

Patty Bonsignore


Increased urinary frequency and incontinence can be caused by a number of conditions in older adults, one of which can be uncontrolled diabetes. Without knowing the details of her medical history, it is difficult to determine whether diabetes is the main reason for her increased urination at night. You may want to have her evaluated by a urologist (a doctor who specializes in urinary problems) to determine the cause of this very bothersome symptom. You cannot assume it is caused by her diabetes. That being said, high blood glucose levels can definitely cause increased urinary frequency at night; this can happen if the blood glucose is running consistently over 180. The best treatment for increased urinary frequency caused by diabetes is to get blood glucose levels below 180, rather than thinking about catheterization. Chronic catheterization dramatically increases the risk of urinary and systemic infections and is used only as a last resort after all other means of managing the incontinence have been exhausted.

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