Catheter-associated Urinary Tract Infections (CAUTIs) are one of the most common types of complications in those with indwelling catheters. Also, tackling CAUTIs is difficult as they can be caused by any number of different bacteria, meaning that the cause must first be identified before any antibiotics can be administered.
Preventing CAUTIs from occurring is a much more effective solution, and does not require any antibiotics or specialist equipment. Here are a few simple practices you can adopt to help reduce the risk of infection.
Understand the techniques
The catheterisation techniques vary for men and women. Ask your doctor to show you the appropriate techniques. For self-catheterisation, make sure that you wear sterile gloves, have cleaning solutions, water-based jelly or xylocaine jelly lubricant (if you aren’t using a self-lubricating one), and only use catheter from an undamaged package.
If sterile gloves aren’t available, it’s vital to thoroughly wash your hands with soap well before touching or inserting the catheter. Once you have washed your hands, don’t touch anything else except the catheter to minimise the risk because even the smallest amount of bacteria is enough to cause CAUTIs if introduced to your urinary tract.
Drink lots of water
Bacteriuria is the presence of bacteria in the urine and it is common in those with catheters. While urine is not technically sterile, it usually contains only asymptomatic bacteria, and in a healthy person, it’s diluted with enough water to make the presence of bacteria almost negligible. A UTI can appear when you have a concentration of symptomatic bacteria in your urine.
Symptomatic bacteriuria is one of the major causes of CAUTIs but is relatively easy to prevent – simply drink plenty of water. Drinking a lot of water will dilute your urine, making it less likely for dangerous concentrations to form. It also causes you to urinate more frequently, regularly flushing out your urinary tract and preventing bacteria from sticking to the catheter.
Keep the catheter clean
It sounds simple, but good hygiene remains the most important factor in preventing CAUTIs. Most infections are caused by biofilms, collections of microorganisms that have stuck to the surface of the catheter, so regularly cleaning the surface can help prevent them from forming.
Change your diet
Small changes in your diet can make a big difference in your risk of infection. While eating healthily will naturally make you more resistant to infection in general, there are certain specific things you can add to your diet that can help:
- Cranberries – The debate on whether cranberry juice prevents UTIs or not is a long and difficult one to follow. However, recent research has revealed that they contain chemicals that bind to bacteria and prevent them sticking to the catheter surface. You would need to eat a significantly large amount is required to see a significant effect.
- Blueberries – This small fruit operates in much the same way as cranberry juice does, containing the same type of proanthocyanidins that stop bacteria sticking. However, they are also high in antioxidants and vitamin C, both of which have been proven to have health benefits. You can easily include them in your diet by adding them to smoothies and porridge.
- Vitamin C – Most often found in citrus fruits, vitamin C has been used as a cure for UTI since pre-antibiotic times, as it was thought to make urine too acidic for bacteria to proliferate in. While scientific evidence for this is limited, it has been proven to inhibit bacterial growth, so adding more vitamin C is unlikely to hurt.
- Probiotics – These are more of a general health benefit than a specific one, but their effects have been proven. Probiotics are effectively ‘good’ microorganisms that contribute to your health and are often found in your gut or digestive system. They can be found in supplements and fermented foods like Greek yoghurt, sour cream and cheese.
For catheter users who are simply tired of contacting CAUTIs, we recommend using UroShield to prevent CAUTIs. UroShield is a small device that clips onto a catheter and generates low-frequency Surface Acoustic Waves (SAWs), vibrating the surface and preventing bacteria from sticking. UroShield is small, unobtrusive, easy to use, and with huge benefits, making it the perfect solution for those looking for a simple solution.
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