Fiona asks Julie whether MSers have an increase risk of urinary tract infections.
Fiona Is there an increased risk of urinary tract infections for someone with MS?
Julie So quite a lot of people ask us that question and I think what you need to remember is that germs live in your bladder, so when you go to the toilet obviously you’re expelling these germs and bacteria that live in your bladder that are in the waste products, but what happens in MS is because they don’t always empty their bladder fully, these germs are then sat in the bladder and then they multiply, and then that’s what causes the increased risk of infections. So yeah, there is that chance if the bladder’s not working effectively from the result of the lesions in the spine and the brain, then yes, that will increase infections because they’re not emptying their bladder correctly and expelling these bacteria, so the bacteria will just multiply and then that’s when urine infections will happen.
Fiona So how could I, as an MSer, how could I try and ensure that I do empty my bladder, what advice would you give?
So the best thing I think for you to do then is to keep hydrated. What a lot of patients do feel is that sometimes they drink less to try and stop having accidents or to try and, you know, control the frequency and the urgency they get, and actually that’s often the worst thing to do. What we do want you to do is keep hydrated, because if we don’t, that’s what will cause some of the infections as well. Your urine will become concentrated and then that’s when the bacteria starts and that’s when the infections happen. So we sort of try and tell patients at least one to two litres per day of fluids, of water or juice, you know, even tea and coffee, there’s that as well, is really important and not to reduce the fluid intake because that will cause… And I think also as well, just looking out for what the signs of the infection are, which can be, your urine can become quite cloudy, you could have pain when you’re passing urine, you become quite lethargic and washed out yourself, and increase in fatigue, high temperature.
So I think it’s keeping an eye on what the signs of the infection are so that you do treat it quite early and speak to your GP or to your healthcare professional, getting that, because the worst thing we don’t want you to do is go untreated, because you know, if we don’t treat an infection it does have a knock-on effect of your MS symptoms and we do find a lot of patients sometimes end up in hospital quite unwell, often thinking they’re relapsing as well, but actually it’s an underlying urine infection that’s really knocked them off. So it’s really important that they, as patients, you look out for the signs of what the infection are, keep well hydrated, keep that bladder flushed and going through, but if you’re worried about anything, that’s where your MS nurse specialist will come in, or then we look at referring you to continence services as well for advice.
MS Reporter: Fiona
MS Expert: Julie Taylor is an MS nurse who works with patients across Leeds.