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Avoiding Urinary Tract Infections (UTI’s)

Avoiding Urinary Tract Infections (UTI’s)
Kevin Cleary

For those that are faced with the proposition of using a catheter, the largest health concern may be a urinary tract infection. Anyone can experience a UTI, but those who have had an injury, surgery, or any other reason to use a catheter, indwelling or intermittent, have the additional possibility of contracting a catheter-associated urinary tract infection (CAUTI). This can affect the urethra, bladder, and even your kidneys. While UTIs are the most common form of infection, their prevention can avoid issues down the road.

Avoiding Urinary Tract Infections (UTI’s)

Symptoms of a UTI

While avoiding a CAUTI is the best way to deal with them sometimes this is not possible. Yes, a urinary tract infection may be common, but understanding it symptoms are the first step in treating them. Many of these infections can be caused by extended use of a catheter. The National Institute of Health identifies several symptoms of catheter-associated urinary tract infections as:

  1. Cloudy urine
  2. Blood in the urine
  3. Foul/Strong urine odor
  4. Frequent and strong urge to urinate
  5. Leakage of urine around the catheter
  6. Pressure, pain, or spasms in your back or belly

The best way to deal with any UTI is to avoid them altogether, but this requires a comprehensive plan for those who must use either an indwelling catheter or someone who requires an intermittent catheter (a temporary catheter used once to remove urine). Some guidelines put forth by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) include:

  1. Insert catheters only when needed
  2. Leave catheters in place only as long as necessary
  3. Use aseptic techniques and sterile equipment
  4. Practice hand hygiene

Adherence to proper hygiene is paramount to the success of any catheterization program. The use of the good hand sanitizer can be a great idea. Also, using a sterile lubricant during catheter insertion is important. It’s by avoiding any introduction of germs or bacteria into the urinary system that can be the best prevention of any infection.

Avoiding Urinary Tract Infections (UTI’s)

Arm Yourself

Avoiding Urinary Tract Infections (UTI’s)

The most important item in your toolbox to fight or avoid catheter-associated urinary tract infections is knowledge. By understanding the anatomy of every catheter will help you understand how they work and the best way to avoid contamination by bacteria. A closed system catheter can be the most convenient and sanitary option. These come with everything you need with the actual catheter insertion tip inside the sterile collection bag. Your doctor or nurse can properly train you in the appropriate techniques and hygiene in order to minimize the risk of infection. For those that use intermittent catheters maintaining this sterile environment is crucial. Many catheters include sterile gloves to minimize any contamination and the use of povidone iodine swabs are utilized for anti-bacteria, fungi, and other antimicrobial nasties!! Not only can CAUTI’s be uncomfortable and painful, repeated treatment of these bacteria with antibiotics can lead to bacteria that are resistant or impervious to future treatments. This can be extremely dangerous!! Antibiotic resistant bacteria are becoming far too common and your urologist may opt not to treat every infection.

There is a saying in sports that goes “the best defense is a good offense” and this can be an appropriate analogy for any catheterization plan. By being diligent in creating a sterile environment the risk of infection can be minimized. Be aggressive in your urinary well-being and minimize any exposure to bacteria and make sure you work with your urologist to avoid potentially serious issues in the future.


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HPFY Kevin Cleary

Kevin Cleary

Kevin Cleary has been a Health Products For You contributor for many years and has a degree in marketing. His health and wellness journey has a very personal meaning and has guided him in his content writing for HPFY.

In 2006, ...

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