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
• 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.
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
• 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.
• 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