The Simon Foundation for Continence

Preventing Urinary Catheter Blockages



My need for a catheter was caused by breaking my neck at C4/5 with consequent spinal damage and paralysis below my shoulders. My suprapubic catheter was installed in May 2013, about 4 months after my spinal injury. I had no blockage during the first two years and eight months but I had 23 between 16th January and 24th July 2016 when they were stopped, mainly by taking Nitrofurantoin.

According to the users' information leaflet, Nitrofurantoin is used 1) to cure urinary infections and 2) to prevent them. If used to prevent urinary infections, in my case it also prevented catheter blockages. I do not know for how many other people with catheter blockages it would be effective. It would be unlikely to work for those who have blockages caused by kidney stones or bladder stones.

The normal dose for preventing urinary infections is 50 or 100mg daily at night. Having taken 50mg per day for 30 days, this was reduced to 50mg 3 or 4 times per week and then to just nights when I was feeling feverish as might warn of a urinary infection or when there was a considerable amount of sediment in my catheter. That worked for me, but others might need different doses. Like other medications, Nitrofurantoin comes with many cautions and possible side-effects, listed in the users' information leaflet, but I have not had any at these doses.

As well as taking Nitrofurantoin I also repositioned my catheter by pulling it forward immediately after going to bed to prevent the intake being obstructed by pressing up against my bladder wall and, as far as possible, assisted drainage by gravity by placing my catheter flat on the bed rather than strapped to my leg.

I have also used several supporting methods to keep my catheter clear:

1 High water intake: widely recommended to wash out loose sediment and to dilute urine and bacterial concentration.

2 Bladder wash-outs: I have never had a blockage on the night immediately following a wash-out but I have had at least one on the night after that: they reduce but do not eliminate blockages.

3 Loosening any sediment in the catheter by rolling it between the hands.

4 Adding vinegar to food seems to be followed by a clearer catheter (by lowering urine pH and acting as an antibiotic). So too does drinking lemon tea. To make lemon tea, I simply cut an unpeeled lemon in half, slice or chop one half into pieces and pour hot water onto it. In a small cup (200ml.) this can be topped up with hot water several times, squashing the lemon with a spoon.

For more information, please see either of these sites:

P.S. Still no blockage since the night of 23rd / 24th July.

21st March 2017

3 Replies

Thank you so much for posting this really helpful information, future members of the community are sure to find this useful! Best wishes to you and thanks for sharing your experience.

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Thank you Rolf. I hope it works for others. It still works for me - still no blockage since 23/24th July 2016.

With best wishes,



That is great Barry. I have read alot about the benefits of drinking vinegar and lemon tea but not in this context, that sounds like a very good routine you have. Thanks again for participating in the community!

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