Normally, the urinary system is relatively free from bacteria. Inserting a catheter into the bladder exposes urine to the outside environment. This can allow bacteria to enter the urinary system.
If you have an indwelling catheter for longer than a month you will have bacteria in your urine. Most of the time these bacteria won’t cause any problems. This is known as asymptomatic bacteriuria or ASB.
However, sometimes these bacteria make you unwell. It is then called a UTI.
Signs and symptoms of a UTI
- High body temperature (fever)
- Discomfort or pain over the bladder or kidneys
- Increased bladder spasm
- Autonomic dysreflexia
- New leaking of urine in between catheters.
Smelly or cloudy urine on its own is no longer considered a symptom that requires antibiotic treatment.
If you suspect you might have a UTI, contact your GP or urology nurse.
You will be required to collect a clean specimen of urine. This will be sent to pathology to establish what antibiotic will treat the organism that is causing the infection.
If you are very unwell, your doctor may prescribe a broad-spectrum antibiotic before the pathology results return. If this is the case it’s important that the pathology is still checked, to ensure the antibiotic is the right one.
If you get UTIs frequently it’s important you have a review with a urologist to rule out other causes. Recurrent UTIs can be from an underlying condition such as bladder stones, kidney stones or prostatitis.
Contact the urology nurse at the VSCS. Your issues can be presented to the urologist that work with the spinal team. A referral to a urologist from your GP would also be appropriate.