A neurogenic bladder happens from nerve damage as a long-term result of high blood sugar. Preventing this hyperglycemia is a key way of helping to reduce the risk of this complication.

Nerves are spread throughout your body to carry signals from your brain and nervous system to your organs and tissues. There are a lot of conditions that can result in nerve damage. Nerve damage may reduce how well certain organs work, and if neurological disease or damage affects the bladder, your condition may be diagnosed as “neurogenic bladder.”

Nerve damage is a common complication of diabetes, and neurogenic bladder is one of the ways this nerve damage can present itself.

This article will explore how diabetes causes neurogenic bladder and what to expect if you develop this complication.

High glucose levels in your blood, or “hyperglycemia,” is a common difficulty for people living with diabetes. If you’re resistant to insulin or don’t make adequate amounts of this hormone, glucose can’t enter your cells as energy and instead builds up in your bloodstream.

This glucose-rich blood can lead to all kinds of difficulties, damaging delicate tissues and nerves. Nerve damage that develops in people who have diabetes, as a result of chronically high blood sugar levels, is called “diabetic neuropathy.”

There are several kinds of diabetic neuropathy, including:

These different types of neuropathies are named for the areas of the body they affect. Neurogenic bladder falls into the category of autonomic neuropathy. Autonomic neuropathies can also affect the function of other organs in the body, such as the intestines and genitals.

You can read more to learn about neurogenic bladder and other health conditions that can lead to this issue.

Hyperglycemia can happen to anyone, but it’s most common in people living with type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is more common than type 1 overall, with type 2 accounting for 91% of cases of diabetes in the United States.

Even if type 1 isn’t as widespread, neurogenic bladder is more common as a complication of type 1 diabetes.

A 2023 report estimates that neurogenic bladder develops in roughly 43–87% of people who have type 1 diabetes. In people who have type 2 diabetes, the study notes the prevalence of neurogenic bladder is about 25%.

Symptoms of neurogenic bladder from diabetes are similar to the symptoms you’d have with a neurogenic bladder from other types of nerve damage.

Nerve damage weakens the signal from your nervous system to your bladder, resulting in decreased bladder function.

The symptoms and signs usually appear as:

Managing your blood glucose, and keeping it in range is the first step in preventing the development of a neurogenic bladder.

If diet and lifestyle changes aren’t enough to control your blood glucose levels for your type 2 diabetes, you may need to take oral antihyperglycemic medications or insulin.

Diabetic neurogenic bladder is a condition that experts believe is underestimated. About 45% of people living with diabetes are thought to have this condition, but symptoms aren’t usually reported unless they’re severe enough to interfere with daily activities and quality of life.

Vascular diseases are a leading cause of mortality in people who have diabetes. Nerve damage that leads to difficulties such as neurogenic bladder develop through a similar process as do vascular diseases.

On its own, neurogenic bladder isn’t linked to a significant decrease in life span.

When neurogenic bladder is linked to higher mortality rates, it’s usually for people who have more severe neurological damage and limited consciousness.

If left untreated, neurogenic bladder can lead to other complications that could result in issues such as:

Beyond medications and lifestyle changes, you’ll want to manage your diabetes effectively. Diabetic neurogenic bladder can be treated with a few different medications. The goal of most of these medications is to increase your bladder control and limit any additional loss of function.

Medications that may be used to manage neurogenic bladder include:

Additional treatments or therapies that may also be used for neurogenic bladder include:

What medications or treatments are best for you will depend on the severity of your symptoms of neurogenic bladder, what other medical conditions you may have, and the state of your overall health.

Neurogenic bladder is a condition in which you lose some or all bladder control due to nerve damage or a neurological injury. Nerve damage is a common complication of diabetes, and the true prevalence of diabetic neurogenic bladder is probably underestimated.

If you have a neurogenic bladder, different toileting and timing strategies as well as pelvic floor therapy may help you regain some control. There are also medications that can help, and a healthcare professional can work with you to bring your diabetes under control in an effort to prevent further damage.