Unfortunately, urinary tract infections after urostomy surgery are one of the most common issues that can occur. There are symptoms to keep an eye out for and some tips that may help prevent future UTIs. Once you are aware of the signs you might have a UTI, the quicker you can get help or be knowledgeable about the steps you can take to treat and prevent it.
Why Urostomy Surgery May Be Needed
One of the most common surgeries for bladder cancer is urostomy surgery. Treatment for prostate, cervical, and uterine cancer may damage the urethra. Urostomy surgery can be performed to divert urine away from the bladder that is not working correctly and passed out of the body through a stoma. A urostomy changes how urine is eliminated from the body and can be life-saving.
Other reasons besides bladder cancer that urostomy surgery may be needed include:
- Chronic UTIs
- Congenital disability in the urinary tract
- Injury or trauma to the bladder
- Severe urinary incontinence
- Interstitial cystitis (painful bladder syndrome)
Urinary Infections After Urostomy Surgery
After any surgical procedure, the body is vulnerable to infections. Germs can infect a surgical wound site from the touch of a caregiver, the surgical instruments used during surgery, germs in the air, or even germs that are already on the body. After urostomy surgery, the urinary tract is susceptible to UTIs since it is still in place. Bacteria can easily find their way into the body to cause urinary tract infections after urostomy surgery and, if not treated quickly, can lead to kidney infections.
Symptoms of a UTI
Symptoms of a UTI can vary from person to person. However, if you notice any of the following symptoms, you should immediately speak to your doctor or your stoma nurse. Although these symptoms do not denote urinary tract infections after urostomy surgery, these symptoms should not be ignored.
- Cloudy or dark urine
- Pain or burning sensation while urinating
- Strong-smelling urine
- Mid-back pain where the kidneys are located
- Nocturia (increased need to urinate during the night)
- Blood in the urine
How to Prevent a UTI After Urostomy Surgery
Although a urinary tract infection after urostomy surgery can happen, there are some things you can do that may help you avoid one. Here are five tips to help prevent a urinary tract infection after urostomy surgery.
1. Drink plenty of water
By drinking enough water, you help the kidneys do their job of flushing out bodily waste. Your urine will be less concentrated with bacteria, and you are less likely to develop urinary tract infections after ostomy surgery. If your urine is slightly orange or dark, you are already dehydrated and at risk for a UTI.
2. Drain your urostomy pouch routinely
It is a good habit to empty your urostomy pouch regularly. Bacteria can develop quickly in the urine, and a urostomy bag that is too full can cause that urine to travel back up and onto the stoma. Most ostomy nurses and doctors recommend emptying your urostomy pouch when it is one-third to half full. There are urostomy pouches that prevent urine backflow such as this, like the Convatec ActiveLife One-Piece Urostomy Pouch.
3. Keep your urostomy night drainage system clean
If you are using a night drainage system, it is good practice to clean the system and any adapters after each use with warm soapy water and hang to dry. Bacteria can grow inside the tubing if it is not regularly cleaned and can cause urinary tract infections after urostomy surgery. The night drainage system should also be placed lower than the bed level to prevent backflow during the night and not on the floor to avoid any source of bacteria.
4. Keep the peristomal skin clean
The skin around the stoma is known as peristomal skin, and it is essential to keep it clean and dry. Infections can occur when the peristomal skin is irritated and sore, increasing the risk of urinary tract infections after urostomy surgery. Ostomy accessories such as ESENTA Skin Barrier Wipes and ESENTA Adhesive Remover Wipes can help maintain peristomal skin health.
5. Avoid consuming caffeine and alcohol
Caffeine and alcohol can cause dehydration, worsening urinary tract symptoms after urostomy surgery, and making it harder to flush out harmful bacteria.
Natural Ways to Treat a UTI
Aside from drinking plenty of water, there are other natural ways to treat a urinary tract infection.
Placing a heating pad on the pelvic region can help remove some pain. You can also try taking a warm bath to soothe the pain. Using soaps or bubble baths, use only hypoallergenic and unscented products.
Probiotics are microorganisms that fight to protect our bodies against infections, including UTIs. You can take probiotics in supplement forms or consume yogurt or other fermented foods such as sauerkraut, miso, pickles, and some cheeses.
Garlic has infection-fighting properties, and when it is crushed, it forms a sulfur compound called Allicin that provides antimicrobial action. You can add 5-6 small crushed garlic cloves to vinegar for a salad dressing or swallow them with water to get them into the system quicker.
Consuming foods high in vitamin C, like oranges, strawberries, tomatoes, bell peppers, and potatoes, makes the urine more acidic and limits the growth of harmful bacteria that can lead to a UTI.
Even if you only urinate a small amount, you get rid of harmful bacteria the UTI feeds on. Try not to hold back from going to the restroom, even if it is slightly painful. Holding your bladder too long can lead to the development of urinary incontinence.
Drinking non-caffeinated green tea has many benefits, but one study showed that the antioxidants in green tea could help ease bladder inflammation. Green tea also promotes heart health and even has cancer-preventing properties.
Where to Buy Urostomy Supplies
We offer a variety of urostomy supplies from top manufacturers at Personally Delivered that can help manage your urostomy. We even have Product Experts to help guide you through the purchasing process and answer any questions you may have along the way. Please browse our website or give us a call today at 800-777-1111.