Pushin' On: UAB Spinal Cord Injury Model System Digital Newsletter Volume 33 | Number 2 | Page 2

HEALTHY LIVING Urinary Tract Infections and Spinal Cord Injury by Phil Klebine If you have a spinal cord injury (SCI), you are likely at higher risk for urinary tract infection (UTI). In fact, it is one of the most common secondary medical issues after SCI. What causes UTI? A UTI usually occurs when bacteria enter the bladder through the urethra. The bacteria multiply in the bladder and grow into an infection. Why is UTI common after SCI? There are two main reasons people with SCI are at high risk for UTI. 1. Most methods of bladder management make it easier for bacteria to enter the bladder through the urethra. 2. Once in the bladder, it is hard to get rid of the bacteria because most people cannot fully empty their bladder during bladder management. This is why bacteria are almost always found in the bladder and why it is easier for the bacteria to quickly multiply in the bladder and cause the infection. Can UTI be prevented? You may not be able to totally prevent all occurrences of UTI, but you can reduce your risk by using a few common sense techniques. Stay properly hydrated Hydration is the amount of water you need to keep your body healthy. Here are only a few of the important health benefits for people with SCI. • Helps flush out bacteria from the bladder • Helps maintain body temperature • Helps ease the flow of stool through the bowel • Helps keep the skin moist, supple and healthy Your body absorbs some water from the foods you eat, but the liquids you drink are your body’s main source of water. This is why you should drink water most of the time and limit drinks with sugar, caffeine, and alcohol because they act to get rid of water in your body. So how much water do you need? You get dehydrated when drinking too little water, and your body does not have enough for optimal health. Your sodium level drops dangerously low (hyponatremia) when drinking too much water. It is often suggested that you need about eight cups (64 ounces) of water per day. It is one of those “best guesses” to give you some idea of how much water is needed to stay hydrated. In reality, though, the “ideal” amount of water intake varies greatly from person to person. Instead of guessing how much water you need, the color of your urine can usually give you a good idea of whether or not your body is properly hydrated. Ideally, your urine needs to be golden yellow most of the time. If it is on the clear side, you probably need to drink a little less water. You probably need more water if the color gets darker. Here is a color chart to help guide you. An increase in water intake is also likely to increase your urine output, so you may need to talk to your health professional about making adjustments in bladder management. The reason is you want to prevent your bladder from becoming overdistended because it is too full. This can damage the lining of the bladder, which increases your risk for infection. Participate in Research at UAB Pregnancy, Labor, Delivery and Postpartum Outcomes of women with and without a SCI This study aims to compare pregnancy, labor, delivery and postpartum outcomes of women with and without a spinal cord injury to better understand potential difficulties women with SCI experience as well as their educational and emotional support needs. Criteria to Participate • Women with SCI who are at least 1 year post-injury • At least 19 years old • Pregnant or have given birth within the last 3 years Participants will receive up to $200. Go to website, call 205-934-3330 or email [email protected] for more information. 2 uab.edu/sci Personalized Online Weight and Exercise Response System (POWERS): A Weight Loss Study for Adults with SCI This study aims to determine how well a newly developed web-based health coaching program helps adults with SCI increase their physical activity and improve their diet. Criteria to Participate • Be at least 19 years old • Have reliable internet access • Have the ability to use your arms for exercise • Visit the Lakeshore Foundation at the beginning and end of the intervention Go to website, call 205-403-5506 or email SCIresearch@ uab.edu for more information.