Pushin' On: UAB Spinal Cord Injury Model System Digital Newsletter Volume 33 | Number 2 - Page 3

Proper bladder management People with SCI at the highest risk for UTI are those who use intermittent catheterization or indwelling (Foley) catheters. The risk is a bit lower for those who use a condom or suprapubic catheter. Here are a few ways to keep your risk for UTI lower. • Follow package directions at all times to maintain a sterile environment when using a closed system for intermittent catheterization or indwelling catheter kit. • Empty leg and bed bags before they get too full to prevent urine from backing up and overdistending the bladder. • Wash your hands before and after bladder management and clean your supplies daily. • If you use an indwelling catheter and average more than one UTI per year, talk to your health professional about changing the catheter out more often. Also, consider switching to a suprapubic catheter because there is a lower risk for UTI with a suprapubic when compared to an indwelling catheter. • Read Bladder Management Options Following SCI to learn more on managing your bladder. Vitamins C & D Ask your health professional if a vitamin supplement is safe for you to take, but make sure you get enough of vitamins C and D. Vitamin C helps inhibit the growth of some bacteria by acidifying the urine. Many, if not most, people with SCI do not get enough vitamin D, but vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium. Without enough vitamin D, calcium can build in your urinary tract and put you at risk for developing bladder and kidney stones. Stones can also cause UTI. Cranberry Research is mixed on whether or not cranberries help prevent UTI, but many people insist there is a benefit. If you think it helps, take a daily cranberry pill instead of drinking the juice. This way you get the benefits of the cranberry without the added sugar found in most juices. Watch for early warning signs You will likely notice a warning sign before you actually get a UTI. • gritty sediment or mucus in the urine • cloudy or bad smelling urine If you notice a warning sign, you might be able to fend off the UTI. Increase your water intake to wash out more of the bacteria. Stop drinking beverages with alcohol, caffeine and sugar. If you do intermittent catheterization, do them more often. If you use an indwelling catheter, change it out. You may also change it again if early signs clear up. How do I know if I have a UTI? You probably have a UTI once you start having one or more symptoms. • fever • chills • nausea • headache • feeling tired or fatigued • changes in muscle spasms • darker or reddish color urine • may have autonomic dysreflexia (AD) if your injury is T6 or above What do I do if I think I have a UTI? It is important to stress that antibiotics are not recommended as a way to prevent UTI, and they are not recommended for treatment of UTI unless you develop any of the (above) symptoms of UTI. Here is what you should do if you develop symptoms. • Contact your health professional immediately for treatment advice • Always provide a urine sample to get the most effective antibiotic to treat those specific bacteria. This also helps to make sure you do not have some other health problem causing an infection. • Take all antibiotics exactly as prescribed to kill the bacteria. Author’s Note: The information in this article is not meant to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should consult your health care provider regarding specific medical concerns or treatment. Questions and Answers: Preparing for the Cold and Flu Season How do I know if I have a cold, flu or pneumonia? In general, a cold starts with a scratchy, tickling, or sore throat followed by a drippy, watery nose. Over the next day or so, your throat gets a bit more sore, and the mucus becomes thicker (congested) and a little darker. Coughing and sneezing are also common. The sore throat usually lasts for a couple of days, and the congestion, coughing and sneezing usually clears up in about a week. Flu symptoms usually begin much like the symptoms of a cold, but flu symptoms usually progress much quicker than cold symptoms. Flu symptoms are also more severe and usually include fever, headache, and muscle aches along with the sore throat and coughing. With the flu, however, that drippy, watery nose often does not become thicker. Flu can last a week or more and can lead to pneumonia or other serious health problems. Pneumonia symtoms can also begin much like the cold or flu, but there are usually added symptoms like chills, high fever, sweating, and chest pain/tightness. There may be shortness of breath. Breathing might be more difficult, rapid, or sound differently than normal. Coughing usually produces yellow, green or reddish color mucus. Do I need to get the flu shot? Absolutely! Get an annual flu shot (it does not cause the flu), and make sure you have had your pneumonia shot. The shots help reduce your chance of getting flu or pneumonia and reduce their severity if you do get them. What do I do if I think I have a cold, flu or pneumonia? Always contact your healthcare professional for advice, especially if you think you might have flu or pneumonia. UAB Spinal Cord Injury Model System Information Network 3