Managing Urinary Tract Infections after SCI

When you think you have a urinary tract infection (UTI), you want it gone now! After Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) urinary tract infections can be frequent. If you have symptoms of a UTI, don’t delay seeking treatment from a healthcare provider.

Symptoms for a Urinary Tract Infection include:

  • An intense, persistent, and frequent urge to urinate
  • A burning sensation or pain during urination
  • Passing frequent, small amounts of urine
  • Cloud-colored urine
  • Blood in the urine
  • Strong or foul-smelling urine
  • Pelvic pain
  • Pain in the side, lower abdomen, or back
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Fever

After SCI, some of these symptoms will be subtle or not present. It is important to understand the first signs of a UTI, listen to your body, and watch for the symptoms and/or signals your body may provide. Spasms and cold chills paired with sweating (almost like flu symptoms) are a common signal my C7 incomplete injury provides. Each individual is different and with time you will learn the signs to start treating and combatting UTI’s. 

Over the years I have found things that work to keep UTI’s less common. Here are my tips:

Take D-Mannose as a daily supplement

D-Mannose is a supplement that may help prevent and treat UTIs. D-mannose is a carbohydrate. It is a simple sugar that is similar to glucose. D-mannose is found in foods such as:

  • cranberries (and cranberry juice)
  • oranges
  • apples
  • peaches
  • mangoes
  • legumes

How does D-Mannose work on fighting UTI’s? It attaches to e. coli so that the bacteria can’t take up residence in the urethra, bladder, or ureters. (It is important to culture urine when you suspect a UTI. Your physician can provide you with a report that will list the name of the bacteria that is present. This can be a key component in fighting your infection.)

Drink Plenty of Water and Stay Hydrated

Staying hydrated essentially keeps the urine ‘turned over’ in the bladder. Like an ongoing ‘flushing’ of the bladder. When you see a color change in your urine (or it becomes cloudy instead of clear) start pushing water right away. This ‘flushing’ of the bladder can keep ugly bacteria at bay! DRINK PLENTY of water every day.

In order to keep accountable, I mark a water bottle to stay on top of my daily water consumption. I call it my “motivational water bottle” See the picture below.


Practice proper cathing hygiene.

Using intermittent catheters, it’s important to practice sterile use (using a catheter one time and then disposing of it). Do not reuse your catheters because this may actually increase UTIs. The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) considers intermittent catheters, single-use devices.

Take the time to make all hygienic steps prior self cathing:

  1. Always wash your hands before and after self-catheterization.
  2. Use an antiseptic wipe or swab, like BZK (benzalkonium chloride), which is safe for the skin and less irritating than other antiseptics. Clean the external area of the urethral opening where you insert the catheter.
  3. Consider using a hydrophilic or pre-lubricated closed system catheter. This catheter supply type works to minimize hand contamination. Ask a UroStat consultant about the different types and advantages of catheters.
  4. Dispose of all items properly after cathing.
  5. Wash your hands after disposing of items.

Add Oregano Oil to your daily supplements.

Oregano oil naturally contains a range of nutrients such as Vitamins A, C and E. It also provides trace minerals like iron, magnesium, boron, manganese, zinc and calcium.

Oregano oil’s two major phenol components, Thymol and Carvacrol, make it unique giving it antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal and antibiotic properties. Taking this oil has made a huge difference in my recurring UTI’s.

  • Thymol is a powerful antiseptic and antifungal that stimulates the immune system. It fights bacteria (such as E-Coli, Staphylococcus aureus).
  • Carvacrol has been shown to be effective against a wide range of infections including those caused by the following bacteria, parasites and fungi: Candida Albicans, E-Coli, Giardia, Campylobacter, Salmonella, Pseudomonas, Klebsiella and Listeria. (Klebsiella is the nasty bacteria that is often found in my urine culture). Knowing this helped me understand ‘why’ the oregano oil helped me more than the D-Mannose. Once again, find out the bacteria that the urine culture reveals. This knowledge will give you the power to FIGHT BACK the nasty bacterium!

[Side note: Often, non-specific, full-spectrum antibiotics have been overprescribed leading to antibiotic resistance (bacteria mutate into new strains that can survive against our current treatments). This is EXACTLY what lead me to research and find Oregano Oil. After fighting reoccurring UTI’s for 43 years (I am 43 years post-injury) the bacteria had become resistant. I share this because you should never underestimate a UTI nor the overuse of antibiotics. Always culture your urine. Get to know your urologist like you would your best friend…seriously!]

Dilute Oregano Oil in oil (a carrier oil) before taking it. Common carrier oils include coconut oil and olive oil. This oil tastes NASTY, no joke! I highly suggest adding the oregano oil and carrier oil into dissolvable capsules. You can buy capsules online or at your nearest vitamin store.

The key takeaways: Call your doctor if you have even the slightest notion that you have a UTI. Most are easily treated with antibiotics after a urine culture has determined the current antibiotic. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Stay healthy and happy.

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