One of the most common complications for people who intermittently self-catheterize is the development of urinary tract infections (UTIs).
Find out more about UTIs and what you can do to better prevent them.
Common Symptoms of UTIs
Some common symptoms of urinary tract infections that you may experience may include:
- Smelly or cloudy urine
- Blood appearing in urine
- Increased urgency (feeling the need to empty your bladder often & sometimes without warning)
- Pain in the abdomen or lower back
- Burning, uncomfortable sensation inside the urethra
If you are experiencing symptoms of a UTI, see your doctor as soon as possible. The sooner your treatment can begin, the sooner you can beat your UTI and start feeling better.
Why Do People Who Use Catheters Have a Higher Risk of UTIs?
Self-cathing requires the insertion of a foreign object (a catheter) into your urethra to drain the bladder. This may increase the possibility of bacteria being pushed farther into the urethra and causing an infection if the bacteria linger and multiply.
UTIs are sometimes referred to as CAUTIs (catheter-associated urinary tract infections) when the person who has developed the infection also uses catheters. CAUTIs occur when bacteria or pathogens are introduced to the urethra via a Foley catheter or intermittent catheter, then travel up to enter the bladder and even the kidneys if the infection goes untreated.
Consider the following tips to better prevent the recurrence of UTIs.
Top 7 Ways to Prevent a UTI When You Self-Cath
1. Follow the cathing regimen as your doctor has prescribed.
Cathing the number of times per as recommended by your healthcare professional will keep your bladder properly drained, and this will minimize risk of urine staying in your bladder too long.
2. Wash your hands before and after catheterization.
If you don’t practice proper hygiene by washing your hands well, the germs on your hands may contaminate your catheter as you insert it. Using sterile gloves is a good option for preventing contamination from your hands if you don’t have easy access to clean water and soap.
3. Don’t reuse your catheter.
Reusing catheters may increase your risk of contracting a UTI or a bladder infection. Even if you’re cleaning your catheters after using them, they can still have bacteria and pathogens on or inside the tube. Once your catheter has been used, it is no longer sterile. Just throw it away after use, and be sure to keep enough catheter supplies on hand so you’ll have a new sterile catheter ready when it’s time to self-cath again.
Most private insurance companies, state Medicaid programs, and Medicare cover enough intermittent catheters per month to ensure you don’t have to wash and reuse your catheters.
Feel free to give us a call if you have any questions about your current insurance policy’s coverage for catheters and other related urological supplies.
4. Make sure you’re using enough lubrication.
Using adequate lubricant, whether in sterile individual packets or a tube, helps minimize irritation to your urethra as you insert and withdraw your intermittent catheter.
5. Try hydrophilic catheters.
Hydrophilic catheters, such as the GentleCath™ Glide (available in both male length and female length), are designed to reduce the discomfort of urethral irritation and friction even more than standard straight catheters and lubrication.
Hydrophilic catheters also typically include a handling sleeve which will allow you to guide the catheter in without actually touching the tube, which minimizes the risk of contamination from your hands.
6. Use a closed system with a pre-lubricated introducer tip.
The soft, flexible introducer tip lets the catheter get past where the highest concentrations of bacteria are located, which can minimize the risk of pushing germs farther up your urethra.
Closed system catheters are self-contained and come with collection bags and sometimes even include insertion supplies like disinfecting wipes and gloves. This type of catheter can be especially useful for those who are in wheelchairs or people who travel frequently and use public restrooms.
7. Learn how to self-cath.
If you’re experiencing frequent UTIs and you self-catheterize, it’s time to consider your current cathing routine. Are you doing everything your doctor has recommended, such as practicing proper hygiene, drinking enough fluids, and cathing the recommended amount of times per day?
At 180 Medical, we carry high-quality catheter products from all major manufacturers with products on the market today. We also gladly provide catheterization instructions and resources that offer information on how to cath (available for men using straight or coudé tip catheters, women using female length catheters, and children using pediatric intermittent catheters).
See your doctor with any questions about infections and how often you should be cathing. Feel free to contact us if you want to try out alternate catheter product options that may be better suited for your needs and preferences.
Disclaimer: Please note that this post is intended to provide a general understanding of some of the ways that could possibly help prevent urinary tract infections. This information should not be used in place of the recommendations of your prescribing healthcare provider.