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UTI Basics

If you think you have a urinary tract infection, please contact your healthcare professional immediately. The information in this article is not meant to replace medical advice.
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As an intermittent catheter user, you may be prone to developing a urinary tract infection (UTI) at some point.

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection in any part of your urinary system which includes your urethra, bladder, ureters and kidneys. Learn more about the urinary system.

The urinary system functions to remove waste from your body. UTIs most commonly involve the urethra and the bladder, or the lower tract. Ureters and kidneys make up the upper tract. Ureters are tubes that move urine from the kidneys to the bladder. More serious infections can occur when a lower urinary tract infection moves up into the kidneys.

Are there different types of UTIs? An infection can happen in different parts of your urinary tract.

There are 3 different types of UTIs, based on where the infection is located.

  1. Cystitis: an infection in the bladder. This may cause you to empty your bladder more often and it may hurt to urinate. With this infection, urine may be cloudy, foul-smelling and may contain blood. The bladder is also inflamed so you may experience pressure in your abdomen.
  2. Urethritis: an infection in your urethra. This can cause discharge and burning when you empty your bladder.
  3. Pyelonephritis: an infection in your kidneys. When an infection moves up to your kidneys from your lower tract, this can cause fever, chills, nausea, vomiting or upper back or side pain.

What are symptoms of a UTI?

While you may not be able to distinguish the exact type of UTI you have, it's important to be proactive to avoid complications. If you experience any of the following, speak with your doctor as soon as possible:

  • A burning feeling when you empty your bladder
  • A frequent or intense urge to urinate, even though little comes out when cathing
  • Cloudy, dark, bloody, or strange‐smelling urine
  • Feeling tired or achy
  • Fever or chills (a sign that the infection may have reached your kidneys)
  • Pain or pressure in your back or lower abdomen

What causes UTIs?

Urinary tract infections are commonly caused when bacteria enter the urinary tract through your urethra and begin to colonize or spread in your bladder. Women tend to be more prone to urinary tract infections due to the length and location of their urethra. In general, women get UTIs up to 30 times more often than men do.

Cystitis

Cystitis, or infection of the bladder, can be caused by bacteria found in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract traveling through the urethra into the bladder.

Due to the length of the female urethra and the urethral opening proximity to the anus, bacteria can easily enter the female urethra and get into the bladder.

E.coli, a type of bacteria commonly found in the GI tract, commonly causes cystitis UTIs.

Sexual intercourse may also cause cystitis, but you do not need to be sexually active in order to develop a cystitis UTI.

Urethritis

Urethritis, or infection of the urethra, like cystitis, can be caused by GI bacteria spreading from the anus to the urethra. Sexually transmitted infections, such as herpes, gonorrhea, chlamydia and mycoplasma, can also cause urethritis.

For women, urethritis can easily occur since the female urethra is shorter and the urethral opening is very close to the vagina. Men are also susceptible to urethritis through sexual contact.

More commonly for catheter users, UTIs are caused by the introduction of a catheter to the urinary system. Unassisted, the urinary system is sterile with most of the bacteria living in the opening of the urethra due to proximity to the outside of the body. When urine flows unassisted, this flushes out bacteria that may be working its way to the bladder which helps reduce the risk of infection. For users who need to utilize a catheter, there is a risk of bacteria being pushed further up the urethra and into the bladder potentially increasing the risk of UTI.

We know the importance of urethral health. Learn more about how Convatec Continence Care technologies work and how choosing the right catheter could impact your urethral health.

Don't panic, stay calm but be proactive.

Remember, UTIs are common. With prompt and proper attention, UTIs can easily be treated. Don't ignore symptoms and once your UTI has been identified, follow your healthcare professionals prescribed treatment plan.

If you think you have a urinary tract infection, or are suffering from any of these symptoms, please contact your healthcare professional immediately. This information is not meant to replace medical advice.

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The me+™ support program offers tools to help make life as a catheter user completely your own. Enroll in me+™ or request free product samples. Experience the latest technology and discover answers to the most commonly asked cathing questions.

Adjusting to cathing can be tough, with a range of practical, physical and emotional challenges. You don’t have to figure it out alone.

Speak with a member of the me+™ support team today.

Call 1-800-422-8811 (M-F, 8:30 AM-7:00 PM ET).

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