Why UTIs?

Urinary tract infections are more common among people with SCI, here’s why and how to prevent them

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is the direct result of bacteria getting into the bladder and/or kidneys and causing symptoms. UTIs occur more commonly among people with spinal cord injury due to intermittent catheterization. The catheter can pick up bacteria on the skin and bring it into the body and some catheter systems can cause the backflow of urine into the bladder, which increases bacteria in the bladder, causing infection. Additionally, bacteria will grow in the bladder if it is not emptied at least every four to six hours.


It’s important to be aware of these complications in case an infection occurs so you can begin treatment immediately. Symptoms include:



-Leakage or voiding between catheterizations

-Muscle spasms

-Feeling the need to catherize more often

-Feeling the need to catherize immediately

-Burning sensation



-Mild low back pain or other aches

-Feeling tired

-Bad smelling urine

-Cloudy urine

-Blood in urine


If you think you already have a UTI, go to your doctor to discuss treatment options. Usually the infection can be taken care of with a course of antibiotics. However, the best way to deal with UTIs is to not get them at all. These tips will help keep UTIs at bay.

-Drink plenty of water to help flush the bladder

-Empty the bladder at least every 4–6 hours

-Try using a closed catheter system to prevent backflow

-Talk to your doctor about regularly taking vitamin C and cranberry supplements

For more information, read Reduced UTIs from the October 2014 PN or visit rehab.washington.edu.



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