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A Guide To Bladder Health

Gina Flores
Caregiver Advocate | Shield HealthCare
10/17/11  11:16 PM PST
Bladder Health

No matter where we are, bacteria exists in our surroundings.  Proper hygiene and cleanliness is essential for people who use intermittent catheters, as well as condom catheters. The guidelines below are every day ways to promote bladder health.

What are the basic steps for bladder health and hygiene?

  1. Regularly empty your bladder
  2. Properly dispose of your intermittent or condom catheter
  3. Remember to drink adequate fluids based on your doctor’s recommendations
  4. Use proper hand washing techniques
  5. Take all medication as prescribed by your doctor

Why is it so important to drink plenty of fluids?

Adequate fluid intake is not only important for bladder health but also for your overall health. Because stagnant urine in the bladder can become a breeding ground for bacteria, it’s important to drink enough water and other fluids to keep the urine clear. Using your intermittent catheter as prescribed can prevent urine from sitting in the bladder too long. The exact amount and type of fluid you should drink depends any medical conditions, medications and activity level. Talk to your doctor about how much fluid you should be drinking, since the amount can vary by person.

What is the proper hand washing technique?

It’s easy for germs to accumulate on your hands from surfaces you may touch, contact with people and any contact with animals. People who use catheters and/or caregivers need to wash their hands correctly and often to avoid transferring germs to the catheter and into the body. General guidelines for proper hand washing include:

  • Use soap and warm water
  • Lather up the hands, then rub vigorously for 20 seconds. This friction removes dirt from your skin
  • Wash all areas including the back of the hands, the wrists, fingertips and cuticles. Remember to get between the fingers, under the fingernails and jewelry
  • Rinse, then dry hands with a clean paper or cloth towel
  • Avoid touching the sink
  • Whenever possible, use a paper towel to turn off the faucet and open the door handle as you exit the bathroom
  • It’s critical to wash hands before and after you apply or insert the catheter
  • In times when there’s no access to a sink or soap and water, anti-bacterial hand gel or wet wipes may be used to clean hands

How can I minimize odor?

Strong odor in urine is sometimes caused by specific foods such as asparagus, eggs, onions, garlic, fish, cabbage and broccoli. A neutralizing room spray may be used to remove odor from the air. To prevent odor from forming in the urine itself, Vitamin C tablets are sometimes used, as long as it’s approved by the primary care doctor. The entire genital area should be washed every day to help reduce the possibility of odor. When buying underwear, breathable cotton is a better choice than nylon or synthetic material. If incontinence briefs or pads are worn, they should be changed often enough to avoid excess moisture and lingering odor.

When should I call my doctor?

You should contact your health care provider if you have symptoms of a urinary tract infection or if any of the following occur:

  • It’s too painful to insert the catheter, or you cannot get it in
  • You have a fever over 100° Fahrenheit
  • You have back pain in the area of the kidneys
  • You notice a sudden start of leaking in between catheterizations
  • You have increased mucus in your urine
  • You notice cloudy and strong smelling urine not related to foods that cause odor
  • You have noticeable discoloration or blood in the urine
  • You’re experiencing nausea, loss of appetite, headache or increased fatigue

Source:  Coloplast Urology and Continence Care, Keys To Better Bladder Health

The recommendations provided in this material are not intented to replace the medical advice of a physician. Contact your healthcare professional for personal medical advice or diagnosis-related questions and treatment. If you think you have a medical emergency, call 911.
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