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What is a UTI?

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention state that a urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection that involves any of the organs or structures of the urinary tract, including the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. Some of the common symptoms of a urinary tract infection are burning or pain in the lower abdomen, fever, burning during urination, or an increase in the frequency of urination. UTIs are the most common type of healthcare-associated infection (HAI) and are most often caused by the placement or presence of a catheter in the urinary tract.

How do you reduce UTIs if you rely on intermittent catheters to drain your bladder?

1. Use a new catheter each time

No matter how well you wash a catheter, studies show that reusing the catheter can increase the chances of a UTI. Intermittent catheters are designed to be used one time, and then disposed of. This practice of using a new catheter each time can greatly reduce the amount of bacteria that is introduced into your bladder, which can reduce the chances for a UTI. Most insurance companies cover single use catheters including Medicare and Medicaid.

2. Use a touchless, closed system catheter

A closed system catheter allows for someone to insert the catheter without ever exposing it to your hands or even the air. The catheter is enclosed in a drainage bag that allows someone to advance the catheter from outside the bag. Most closed systems also include an introducer tip, which can reduce UTIs with the bypassing of the urethral opening where bacteria are most common.

3. Use insertion supplies for a sterile technique

Many closed system catheters come with insertion supplies, but for those that don’t and for people using a straight catheter, insertion supplies can be packaged separately. Insertion supplies typically include gloves, a benzalkonium chloride wipe, an underpad, a drainage bag, and a packet of lubricating jelly.

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