Urinary Tract Infections (UTI’s)


Urinary Tract Infections (UTI’s) are quite common in the Spina Bifida population especially if you are not careful about keeping to a clean catheterisation routine.

There are two types of UTI’s

  • Bladder infection (cystitis)
  • Kidney infection (pyelonephritis).

These can present with no symptoms (asymptomatic) or with symptoms (symptomatic).

Signs of infection to look for are:

  • Blood in the urine.
  • Urine looks or smells different (ie. fishy smell).
  • A temperature causing you to shiver or sweat.
  • Difficulty draining any urine.
  • Urine leaking from your urethra or stoma, which hasn’t happened before.

If any of these symptoms occur let your doctor or nurse know.


When someone has cystitis, they generally need to pass urine more often than usual and if sensation is present they may have to hurry to the toilet (urgency).  The urine looks cloudy instead of clear and may smell different from usual.  Drink extra fluids and take your child to your GP or Paediatrician who may prescribe a course of antibiotics.  Ensure that laboratory testing is carried out to confirm the presence of a UTI.

A much more serious situation arises in pyelonephritis in which the infection affects the kidneys causing a high temperature, tummy ache, backache, and sickness and may cause scaring to the kidneys.


How to Prevent UTI’s

  • Maintain adequate fluid intake by encourage your child to drink at least 4 cups a day and carry a drink bottle with them at all times. (The aim is to increase this fluid intake to 2 litres)
  • Ensure regular complete bladder emptying
  • Relieve constipation
  • Ensure the use of appropriate catheter size and type
  • Maintain a strict hygiene routine


Other Remedies to Prevent UTI’s

Many remedies have been used over the years to prevent or relieve urinary infections and two of these are worth mentioning: Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) and cranberry juice.

Vitamin C acts by making the urine acidic and this discourages some of the bacteria which cause urinary infections.

Cranberry juice helps to clear infections and debris after operations on the bladder (specifically e.Coli).