Frequent urination is a common early symptom of diabetes. This is because hyperglycemia leads to excess blood glucose in the urine. Not only does this phenomenon lead to excess water in the urine, but it also increases the person’s thirst. These two factors therefore contribute to making urination more frequent.

Diabetes describes a group of conditions that affect the way the body processes blood sugar. It is a measure of the sugar in the bloodstream that the body uses to supply its cells with energy. When a person’s body fails to control their blood sugar, it can be high or low, which can result in many different symptoms. The two main types of diabetes are type 1 and type 2. Besides frequent urination, other possible early symptoms of this disease can be extreme thirst, fatigue, and vision changes.

In this article, we will see how frequent urination can indicate diabetes and what are the possible symptoms of this disease.

Why is frequent urination a sign of diabetes?

The term diabetes comes from the ancient Greek word meaning “to siphon” or “to pass through”. It refers to the excessive production of urine which is a common symptom of diabetes mellitus. This is why diabetes insipidus has a similar name, as it also causes excessive urination. Diabetes mellitus is usually due to insulin problems. This hormone is responsible for regulating blood sugar. In some cases, type 1 diabetes can develop when the immune system mistakenly attacks the pancreas, affecting its ability to produce insulin. In the case of type 2 diabetes, a person can develop insulin resistance. In this case, the organism no longer reacts correctly to the hormone, which leads to an increase in the level of glucose in the blood.

When insulin cannot help regulate blood glucose levels, a person’s blood sugar levels rise. In general, the kidneys are able to filter and reabsorb glucose from the blood. However, since the amount of glucose in the blood is very high, it exceeds the capacity of the kidneys. Since these organs cannot filter out such an amount of glucose, they excrete the excess in the urine. However, glucose is a solute, which means that it also carries water into the urine by osmosis, resulting in more urine.

Moreover, by dragging fluid from other tissues, it also causes dehydration. As a result, thirst will increase, which will also contribute to an increase in urination frequency as the person drinks more fluids.

This is why some people describe the main symptoms of diabetes as the “three polys”. They refer to:

polyuria, or frequent urination, to help the body eliminate excess glucose
polydipsia, or increased thirst, to compensate for fluid loss from urination
polyphagia, or increased appetite, to compensate for the loss of glucose and fluids due to urination.

Other Urinary Symptoms

Besides more frequent trips to the bathroom, diabetes can also affect urine in other ways. This may include:

Sweet-smelling urine: As the body tries to eliminate excess glucose through urine, it may smell sweet.

Foamy urine: This usually occurs when there is protein in the urine. This may be due to high blood sugar due to diabetes which damages the kidneys and affects their ability to filter blood.

A burning sensation: Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are a common cause of burning sensation during urination and frequently affect people with diabetes.

Urinary retention: High blood sugar can cause nerve damage, which can cause some people to have difficulty urinating.

Other Diabetes Symptoms

In addition to the above, other possible symptoms of diabetes mellitus may include:

unexplained weight loss
vision changes
tingling in the extremities
dry skin
slow wound healing
frequent infections


If a person has symptoms that could indicate diabetes, a doctor can perform tests to diagnose the disease. Typically, these tests involve measuring blood glucose levels and may include Trusted Source:

an A1C test
a fasting blood sugar (glucose) test
a glucose tolerance test
a random blood sugar test
Learn more about diabetes screening tests.

Differential diagnosis

Outside of diabetes, frequent urination can also be a symptom or side effect of other conditions or circumstances, such as:

Diabetes insipidus: This condition affects the way the kidneys maintain fluid balance in the body, leading to excessive urine production.

Overactive Bladder (OAB): This term refers to a common condition that describes a group of urinary symptoms. It is usually a loss of control over urination and a feeling of needing to urinate more often.

Prostate problems: If a person’s prostate is swollen due to a prostate problem, it can put pressure on the bladder and urethra, which can affect how often a person urinates and can also cause difficulty urinating.

Urinary tract infections: A urinary tract infection can irritate the lining of the bladder and urethra. Thus, a person may feel the need to urinate more often.

Pregnancy: During pregnancy, a person may urinate more frequently due to increased kidney activity, pressure from the uterus on the bladder and, in some cases, weak pelvic floor muscles.

Bladder cancer: A person may urinate more often due to irritation of the bladder from the tumor or because the bladder cannot hold as much urine because of the lump.

Medications: Certain medications, such as diuretics, can cause a person to urinate more frequently.

Frequently asked questions sweat the frequent urge to urinate

Below are answers to the most common questions about diabetes and urination:

What type of diabetes causes a person to urinate frequently and why?

Frequent urination can be a symptom of any type of diabetes. It is due to a complication of hyperglycemia, or high blood glucose. When blood sugar is too high, the body tries to eliminate this excess through urine. However, the concentration of glucose in the urine draws more water into the urine causing it to increase in volume. It also increases thirst, which further increases the volume of urine.

What does diabetic urine look like?

When a person urinates frequently due to diabetes, their urine may look cloudy and smell sweet due to the presence of glucose. It may also look foamy if the urine contains protein.

What are the first symptoms of diabetes?

Diabetes can cause a variety of symptoms, and early symptoms may present differently in different individuals. However, some of the most common early symptoms can include frequent urination, increased thirst, fatigue, weight loss, and vision changes.


Frequent urination, or polyuria, can be an early symptom of diabetes mellitus. It occurs when the body tries to remove excess glucose from the blood by excreting it in the urine. However, the concentration of glucose in the urine attracts water from the tissues. Not only does this increase the volume of urine, but it also causes dehydration and increased thirst. The person is then led to drink more and produce even more urine.

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