Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) have caused serious health problems for people with paraplegia or quadriplegia for many decades, regardless of the bladder management method employed.
It is customary procedure for a physician to prescribe antibiotics to treat UTIs when they occur. However, in order to combat future recurrence, some physicians prescribe "prophylactic" antibiotics, or the ongoing use of these medicines even after symptoms have long disappeared, as a preventive measure. Unfortunately, medical research has proven that continued use of antibiotics can cause bacterial resistance, requiring higher doses and/or stronger antibiotics to treat infections. Antibiotic resistance is a widespread problem, prompting the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calling it "one of the world’s most pressing public health problems today." In individuals using intermittent catheterization, clinical tests have proven there is a safer, non-medicinal method of reducing the risk of recurrent Urinary Tract Infections.
Since the introduction and popularization of intermittent catheterization in the early 1970s, people with paraplegia, and some with quadriplegia, have enjoyed a much freer and more satisfying lifestyle. Through the 70s and 80s, clean catheterization was promoted. A vinyl, or red rubber catheter was prescribed, and the user was instructed to wash the tube between catheterizations. UTIs were prevalent, as always, but infection recurrence rates were found to be significantly lower when compared to those associated with the use of Foley, or indwelling catheters.
In the early 90s the "closed system" intermittent catheter became popular. Featuring a pre-lubricated tube, and no-touch design, a protective introducer tip shielded the catheter from exposure to potentially harmful bacteria located in the distal urethra, or in lay terms, near the meatus. This type of closed system was found to significantly reduce the risk of UTI recurrence in patients who used intermittent catheterization.
Other factors can play a role in helping to reduce the risk of infection. Users should always wash their hands before and after cathing, and should cath on a regular and timely basis. It is also important for anyone assisting others with catheterizing to observe sterile technique; i.e. wear non-latex gloves, set the underpad below the catheterization site to improve tidiness, and apply BZK antiseptic prior to insertion.
In past years when catheters were costly, it was common to reuse catheters them, cleaning and sterilizing them after each use.
Today many people reduce the risk of urinary tract infection by using our affordable MTG single-use urinary catheters that are disposed after use. The popularity of disposable urinary catheters is increasing. Each MTG catheter kit includes antiseptic prep and gloves so you can use your catheter with less chance of transmitting germs. Certainly the goal is always to reduce Catheter Associated Urinary Tract Infections (or "CAUTI") to the bare minimum and MTG Catheters are specifically designed for this purpose.
You should also practice the following guidelines recommended by a Center for Disease Control brochure to prevent Urinary Tract Infections: