Diagnosing and Treating UTIs When You Have a Spinal Cord Injury

Posted by Reeve Staff in Daily Dose on October 27, 2021 # Health

Man at doctors Unfortunately, urinary tract infections (UTIs) can be all too common when you have a spinal cord injury. Here’s what you should know about how UTIs are diagnosed and treated, and what you can expect.

A urinary tract infection (UTI) occurs when bacteria enters the bladder and grows out of control. People with spinal cord injuries often use catheters to help them urinate, which can increase the risk for contracting this type of infection.

Why does a catheter potentially increase your chances of getting a UTI? Because a catheter may allow a direct path for bacteria to enter your bladder. A certain amount of bacteria lives in your bladder without causing issues. However, increases in bacteria to infectious levels can cause a UTI.

If you have a spinal cord injury and notice symptoms and signs of a UTI, it’s vital that you make an appointment with your healthcare provider as soon as possible. Left untreated, a UTI can have serious consequences. The infection can spread to the kidneys, causing permanent damage. It can also result in sepsis, a potentially life-threatening complication of an infection.

Diagnosing UTIs

First, your physician or their assistant will discuss the symptoms you’ve been experiencing. They will be looking for one or more of the common signs of a UTI. These may include (but are not limited to): fever, change in urinary urgency or frequency, incontinence/leakage, muscle spasms, fever, back pain, and cloudy or foul-smelling urine.

Your doctor will likely run some tests to see if an infection is present, including a urine sample test to measure the amount of bacteria present in your urine.

Lab analysis of urine is sometimes followed by a urine culture, which can tell the doctor what bacteria is causing your infection and which medications will be most effective. If you have a urine culture greater than 10,000 colony-forming units of a urinary pathogen (a medical term for the amount of bacteria in your bladder), you may be diagnosed with a UTI.

For treatment options, keep reading the full article in the Continence Learning Center on Hollister.com.

Hollister Incorporated is a proud sponsor of the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation and is dedicated to delivering the highest standard of quality in continence care products. To learn more and to find a product that may work for you, visit http://www.hollister.com/continencecare or call 1.888.808.7456 (opt. 3).

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