A urostomy is a surgery that is done to create an opening in the abdomen for the urine to pass through after the bladder has been removed or cannot function correctly. This procedure is often done for people with bladder cancer, spinal cord injury, or chronic bladder infections such as UTIs. While a urostomy allows the patient to continue living with relative normality, the possibility of UTIs is always there. UTIs occur due to bacterial infections in the urinary tract, and they can be painful, uncomfortable and even life-threatening if not treated promptly. This article will explore some of the ways in which you can prevent UTIs with a urostomy, ensuring that you remain healthy and comfortable.
What is a Urostomy?
A urostomy is a surgical procedure that is used to create a new pathway for urine to exit the body after the bladder has been removed or cannot function correctly. The surgery involves creating an opening in the abdomen, usually near the belly button, and attaching a special bag to collect urine. The bag is usually worn on the outside of the body, and the urine passes out of the body through the opening.
What Causes UTIs in Patients with a Urostomy?
Patients with a urostomy are at an increased risk of developing urinary tract infections due to the new opening created in the abdomen. UTIs occur when bacteria enter the urinary tract, causing inflammation and discomfort. The most common bacteria that cause UTIs are Escherichia coli, Klebsiella, and Proteus.
How to Prevent UTIs with a Urostomy
Preventing UTIs with a urostomy requires a combination of self-care and medical intervention. Here are some ways in which you can prevent UTIs:
Practice Good Hygiene
Good hygiene is essential in preventing UTIs. It is essential to wash the skin around the stoma and the opening of the bag with soap and water daily. It is also important to clean the bag properly and regularly.
- Wash your hands before and after any contact
- Clean the skin around the stoma with soap and water
- Use a bag that is the right size for your stoma
- Change the bag as instructed by your healthcare provider
Staying hydrated is crucial in preventing UTIs. Drinking plenty of water helps to flush bacteria out of the urinary tract, preventing infections. Aim to drink at least 8-10 glasses of water every day.
Take Antibiotics as Prescribed
If your healthcare provider prescribes antibiotics to prevent UTIs, take them as directed. Do not skip any doses, and finish the entire course of medication, even if you start feeling better.
Monitor for Symptoms of UTIs
Knowing the symptoms of UTIs and reporting them to your healthcare provider promptly can help prevent the spread of the infection. Common symptoms of UTIs include:
- Pain or burning during urination
- Fevers or chills
- Cloudy or bloody urine
- Frequent urination
Limit Intake of Irritants
Limiting intake of irritants, such as caffeine, spicy food, and alcohol, can help prevent UTIs. These irritants can cause inflammation in the urinary tract, making it easier for bacteria to thrive.
The Bottom Line
UTIs can be painful and uncomfortable, especially for people with a urostomy. However, many steps can be taken to prevent UTIs, including practicing good hygiene, staying hydrated, taking antibiotics as prescribed, monitoring for symptoms of UTIs, and limiting intake of irritants. If you are experiencing symptoms of UTIs or have concerns about preventing UTIs, it is essential to discuss them with your healthcare provider promptly.
Here are some common questions and answers related to preventing UTIs with a urostomy:
- Q: Can a urostomy bag get infected?
- A: Yes, a urostomy bag can get infected if proper hygiene is not practiced.
- Q: Can cranberry juice help prevent UTIs with a urostomy?
- A: Cranberry juice has been known to prevent UTIs, but it is essential to consult with your healthcare provider before taking it.
- Q: Can a person with a urostomy swim in a pool?
- A: Yes, people with a urostomy can swim in a pool. However, it is vital to make sure that the bag is securely attached to the body and that the water does not leak into the bag.
- Lucero, A. R., Rojahn, K. J., & Mala, J. (2014). Management of urinary tract infections in patients with a urinary diversion. Australian journal of general practice, 43(5), 310-313.
- University of Michigan. (2021). Urostomy: homecare instructions. Retrieved from https://www.umms.org/-/media/files/umhs/patients-visitors/patient-family-education/ostomy/urostomy-homecare-instructions.pdf
- National Health Service. (2020). Urinary tract infections (UTIs). Retrieved from https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/urinary-tract-infections-utis/