Living with a SCI: Tips to Prevent a Bladder Infection

Human Interest

People living with disabilities often have to hold their bladders for the duration of their outings for a variety of reasons, perhaps there is a lack of accessible washrooms or a potential lack of time and space required to empty their bladder comfortably. This makes them more susceptible to Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs). Although holding your bladder doesn’t cause the infection itself, not regularly passing urine means that bacteria sitting around the urethra opening isn’t being flushed away regularly.

What is a urinary tract infection (UTI)?

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection in any part of the urinary system. This type of infection can affect the urethra, kidneys, ureters or bladder. Most infections involve the lower urinary tract: the bladder and the urethra.

Urine typically doesn’t contain bacteria. Urine is a byproduct of our filtration system from the kidneys. Urine is created after waste products and excess water have been removed from your blood. In a normal process, urine moves through your urinary system without any contamination. However, bacteria can get into the urinary system from outside of the body, which will cause an infection and inflammation. Serious consequences can occur if a UTI spreads to your kidneys.

Tip #1: Washing Hands

Washing hands can keep you healthy and prevent the spread of bacteria. Think about all the things you touched every day. Throughout our regular daily activities, our hands come into contact with germs. Washing hands is especially important if you use a manual wheelchair since your hands are constantly on your wheels.

Remember to work up some lather on both sides of your hands (front and back), your wrists, and between your fingers. Remember to wash around your nails too. You can use antibacterial soap or regular soap. A good rule of thumb is to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with cold or warm water. Rinse and dry with a clean towel.

By washing your hands frequently and correctly, you can ensure you are erasing as many germs as possible. This may also help reduce the risk of urinary tract infections by contamination from your hands.

Tip #2: Avoid reusing catheters

Many people wonder if reusing a catheter is an option. The optimal method of intermittent catheterization and the type of catheter has been a long-standing debate.

We have either been told it is safe to reuse or we have thought it is economical to wash and reuse catheters. Nevertheless, there is a good reason why you may not want to risk washing and reusing your catheters.

Multiple tests in professional research settings have indicated a risk of infection when reusing catheters. Test results have consistently shown that no matter how rigorous the cleaning process, the risk of bacteria remained. In one laboratory test using PVC urethral catheters, it was found that a full antibacterial washing method still failed to sanitize 67% of the catheters.

Reusing catheters exposes the patient to a plethora of possible cleaning techniques and duration of catheter use. If you want to read more about catheters, read our complete guide to catheters.

Tip #3: Complementary Products

Washing your hands before intermittent catheterization may help prevent contamination, but we recommend keeping the risk of infection as low as possible. Our certified assistants suggest using some of the following products:

  • Wipes: Sanitizing wipes are a versatile and convenient option that can be used for cleaning on the go. Alcohol-based wipes provide the best option for eliminating harmful bacteria on your hands and surfaces.
  • Hand Sanitizer: Similarly, hand sanitizer is one product now commonly found in all public spaces. It can be beneficial to carry a bottle of alcohol-based sanitizer with you to ensure you always have cleaning products available for your hands throughout the day.
  • Coloplast Catheters: SpeediCath Compact catheters are developed to offer safety and discretion. Like all other SpeediCath catheters they are also instantly ready to use.

Tip #4: Visit Your Doctor

Regular visits to the doctor can help you stay informed and aware of any potential risks to your health. Your doctor can help you create a plan that reflects your own personal needs and may have additional recommendations for you. 

At the first sign of a bladder infection, it is highly recommended to visit the doctor immediately. Bladder infections, if left untreated, can pose a serious risk to your health. If the UTI moves into your kidneys, you will be at risk for serious complications. Your doctor can prescribe antibiotics for you and get you started on a treatment plan as soon as possible to avoid any severe health complications. 

Let us help you

If you have more questions regarding catheters, please give us a call @ (204) 589-8955 or send us an email @ [email protected]. Our team of specialists will assist you to find the right catheter or medical supplies for your specific needs.

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