Potential symptoms of a UTI appear on screens in front of a person's body with a stoma.

How a UTI Can Go Undetected With a Urostomy

In 2020-2021 alone, I have had 2 separate occasions of how a missed UTI can turn into one of the most life-threatening illnesses that there is: urosepsis!

It all started when I went up to take care of my mother who was ill. You know that saying, “you can’t pour from an empty cup?" Well, it's true, although you can keep trying to continue pouring from that damn cup!

The signs of a UTI are different with a stoma

Unbeknown to me, I was fighting a urine infection. The thing is, it's different when you have a stoma. You can’t look for the normal signs associated with a UTI. It's not the same anymore because you don’t get the stinging or burning sensation when you pee. Also, I take a diuretic (or water pill) at night so the symptoms 'needing to pee more often than usual during the night' also doesn’t apply to me.

Why I take a diuretic at night

The reason I take the pill at night is that when I was taking the diuretic at breakfast time. I was more likely to encounter leaks with my bag, and it began to greatly interfere with my life. It was causing me anxiety about leaving the house. Taking them at night works well for me; I just plug and go, without giving it a second thought. I am still aware, during the night, that I am attached to the night bag, but it works for me.

Common symptoms go unnoticed

We are told that our urine will look cloudy due to the mucus that is produced by the stoma, so we can’t rely on that bit of information (how our urine looks) either. Some of the other symptoms of having a UTI also do not apply when you have a stoma. We don’t get the feeling of needing to pee suddenly or more urgently than usual due to being ‘bladderless.’ If we find that our bags are seemingly filling up quicker than usual, we can often put that down to increasing our fluid intake. A very normal sign of a UTI is blood in your pee. This is also common with people with stomas!

My other health problems

Personally, I can also explain away the other signs of a UTI due to my other medical issues, scar tissue, and erythromelalgia. Things like lower tummy pain and back pain are usual for me. My temperature often fluctuates when the outside temperature changes.

So, how can we tell if we have a UTI?

And what happens when that infection has been allowed to get out of control? I have to admit, I haven’t found the answer to the first question yet. However, much to my distress, I did find out what happens when a UTI goes rogue!

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