For many, the acronym 'UTI' is an all too familiar one; especially for those who require catheterization. Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) affect millions of people a year and cause lots of unwanted stress and pain.
In this article, we share common ways in which catheter users may be self-sabotaging and unintentionally causing more UTIs. By avoiding these three habits, you can be on your way to better health and have fewer trips to the doctor's office for a urine culture.
1. Not Self-Catheterizing On a Consistent Schedule
For those that require self-catheterization in order to live a more independent life, following a consistent, frequent schedule is critical for maintaining good health. Of those who follow their recommended catheterization schedule, many of them find that they have UTIs a lot less often.
The reason a consistent, frequent self-catheterization schedule is key is simple; bacteria have more of an opportunity to grow when it is in your bladder longer. For normally functioning bladders, those who hold their urine often have a tendency to find themselves with frequent UTIs. Add the need to self-catheterize into the bladder equation and you are gambling with your health.
If insecurity around catheterizing yourself or discomfort in using your catheters is why you put off following a recommended schedule, seek medical advice to help you feel more comfortable with self-catheterization or to perhaps find a better catheter for your needs and your body. Either way, frequent catheterization is not inconvenient. It is necessary for avoiding frequent UTIs.
2. Having Too Much Sugar in Your Diet
Those who regularly eat sugary foods and too much of them should expect to see their doctor often when it comes to UTIs. If there is one thing bacteria feed on, it is sugar. When you supply your cause for UTIs with its primary food source, you are headed for trouble.
Most people think of candy and other sweets when it comes to giving up sugar. There are places where high concentrations of sugar can lurk in your food which will cause problems with sugar consumption as well.
Fruit juices are a common problem. Even the all-natural ones have a lot of sugar in them because they are usually sweetened with concentrated juices from fruit with high sugar content. When you are looking at the sugar content of juice, don’t just look at the ingredients. Check the dietary sugar grams listed in the nutrition information. Chances are you’ll realize there is much more in there than you thought.
Salad dressings, sauces, and certain condiments contain a whole lot of sugar, with low-fat salad dressing being one of the worst. Food products that are low in fat tend to be high in sugar to make up for the taste. Do yourself a healthier favor, and go for regular dressings and sauces with lower sugar content in general. They have a better taste and are easier on your sugar consumption.
Most produced sauce products, such as BBQ sauce, Asian flavored sauces, and ketchup have a high concentration of sugar, namely high fructose corn syrup. If you find yourself using these products often, avoid them altogether or find low-sugar versions.
You should absolutely avoid daily consumption of soda. Not only does regular soda contain way too much sugar but the carbonation stimulates your bladder causing more problems. Stick to water or unsweetened iced tea. Speaking of which…
3. Failing to Drink Enough Water
Note how we said water, not fluids in general. The reason is caffeine, juice, soda, flavored drinks, etc. come with enough of their own health issues, even the artificially sweetened ones. Drinking enough water is necessary for general good health but also to keep those bacteria counts low in your bladder.
Regularly flushing your urinary system by drinking 8 to 10 glasses of water a day goes a long way in keeping your bladder and your urinary tract functioning well and free of illness. Unless there is a medical reason for you to avoid drinking a good amount of water, drink up! It will keep you out of the doctor's office for frequent UTIs.
The One Thing Catheter Users Should Never Do if You Want to Avoid UTIs
Never reuse medical products that are supposed to be disposable. Gloves, drapes, and especially disposable catheters should never be reused. We’ve heard some crazy ways that patients try to sterilize their catheters but none of them kill bacteria effectively enough to avoid frequent UTIs. It can also be very bad for your health in general.
All disposable medical products must be thrown away after each use. If you are short of supplies, talk to your doctor or catheter supplier about getting samples to get you to your next delivery. If you find yourself suddenly using more catheters than you normally do, talk to your doctor. Underlying medical issues could be causing you to run out of catheters before you're supposed to. Any new changes in your urinary function need to be discussed with your doctor as soon as possible.
We hope these tips find you in better health in the weeks to come. In addition to the information above, you can also reduce UTI risk by emptying your bladder completely, avoiding touching your catheter's surface, and minimizing activities that can damage the urethra and attract bacteria.
Self-catheterization can be a gateway to resuming doing all the things you love to do. Following your medical providers’ advice and adhering to these tips should help you realize the benefits of a good life with catheter use.
Irwin et al., BJU International,2009
Dielubanza, EJ & Schaeffer,The Medical clinics of North America,2011.
Foxman et al., The American journal of medicine, 2002
Drake et al. Neurourology and urodynamics, 2016
Center for Urogynecology and Pelvic Floor Disorders, Obstetrics, Gynecology and Women’s Health Institute, Cleveland Clinic, USA