By far, urinary tract infections are the most common complication caused by catheter use. Sometimes called CAUTIs, catheter-associated urinary tract infections can lead to other problems, like kidney infections, meningitis and other life-threatening conditions.
Here’s a quick primer on CAUTIs and what you can do to prevent them.
The Most Common Symptoms of a UTI
- Foul odor
- Cloudy urine
- Urine leakage around the catheter (if indwelling)
- Blood in the urine
- Discomfort, pain or pressure in the abdomen or lower back
Causes of Catheter-Associated UTIs
- When a catheter isn’t cleaned or removed often enough, that creates an environment where bacteria can grow.
- For catheter users who use a collection bag, it’s possible for urine to flow back into the bladder due to its position or from leaving it in too long.
Preventing Catheter-Associated UTIs
- Follow your routine as instructed by your doctor. We can’t stress this enough. Clean it as recommended. Change it as recommended.
- Keep your hands, catheter and genitalia clean.
- Take all proper precautions before and after sexual activity.
- Stay on top of your fluid intake – especially water.
- Keep your collection bag lower than your bladder.
- Avoid foods that irritate the bladder.
Be Extra Careful with Indwelling Catheters
Indwelling catheters are most likely to cause UTIs. Because of this, it’s important to keep the area the catheter and the skin surrounding the catheter insertion clean. Fluid intake is also crucial.