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Catheter Products FAQs

Urinary catheters have been used for a variety of reasons and have been around for thousands of years. If you have recently started to use a catheter, found out that you are going to need to use one, or consider yourself an expert on self-catheterization, you may still have some unanswered questions. We will address some of the most frequently asked questions about catheters and catheter-related products here.

What Are Catheters?

There are many different types, but a urinary catheter consists of a hollow, flexible tube that's placed within the body to aid in the drainage and collection of urine from the bladder. Catheters are typically attached to drainage bags (some of which have parts that allow for easy one-handed drainage) by the use of catheter plugs and caps. Catheters can be constructed of rubber, silicone, or plastic (PVC). 

Why Might I Need to Use a Catheter?

Urinary catheters are typically inserted when a patient cannot empty his or her bladder on their own, if they are not being able to control urination, or as a post-surgery form of action. Some medical conditions such as spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's disease, and prostate surgery can also require one to use a catheter. Catheters may be used as a short-term remedy or as a long-term solution to a medical condition. Even though catheters, drainage bags, and other catheter supplies require a fair amount of maintenance, they can still greatly improve your quality of life.

What Are the Different Types of Catheters?

There are three main types of catheters: Intermittent, External, and Indwelling. 

Intermittent Catheters are meant to be used short-term and repeatedly until the need or requirement subsides and someone has regained the ability to urinate on their own. Intermittent catheters are typically used during and after surgery as a patient is healing.

External Catheters are sometimes referred to as condom catheters or Texas catheters for men. These types of catheters never enter the body and are attached to a drainage bag, carrying a lower risk of infection. Most external catheters are used for more serious functional urinary problems and mental disabilities such as dementia. There are also external catheters for women such as the PureWick Female External Urinary Catheter, which is a great alternative to an invasive approach.

And finally, there are Indwelling catheters, commonly referred to as Foley catheters. These catheters can be needed for either short- and long-term use. The indwelling catheter features a balloon at the end that inflates with a saline solution once the catheter is inserted into the bladder. This balloon keeps the indwelling catheter securely in place. To remove the Foley catheter, the balloon is deflated and the indwelling catheter is then slid out of the urethra.

How Do I Properly Clean My Drainage Bag?

Keeping your drainage bag clean after every use is an important sanitary step to help prevent infection. Be sure to wash your hands before and after cleaning your catheter drain bags with warm, soapy water. Using a mixture of white vinegar and water to rinse your drainage bag is the most gentle option, although you can use a bleach solution to disinfect it for a more deep cleanse. After this step, there is no need to rinse again with water, just simply hang to dry. It is recommended that you change your drainage bags once a month, and you will need to empty your leg drainage bag when it is half-full (typically, at least twice per day).

What Are Some Complications When Using a Catheter?

Although thorough and regular cleaning can help prevent them, urinary tract infections are quite common with catheter use. If you or the person you are caring for experience a fever, lower abdominal pain, burning during urination, or bloody urine, you should contact your doctor right away. Sometimes these symptoms can be caused by other conditions, but it is always important to not take a chance with a catheter-related infection. Tuning into and changes in your health, no matter how small they are, is vital since not everyone with a UTI or other infection experiences these symptoms.

Will I Be Able to Enjoy Normal Activities With a Catheter?

For most people, the answer is yes. The answer to this concern largely depends on the underlying reason for having the catheter in the first place, but the use of the catheter should not disrupt most aspects of your life. In some cases, patients are not permitted to operate a vehicle for safety reasons. For some activities, there are certain precautions that must be taken (for example, you can maintain sexual activities with a catheter, but some adjustments usually need to be made). In general, you should maintain a healthy diet and not consume anything that may cause the bladder to become irritated. Most of the time, the only thing people face that are catheterizing regularly is taking a little more time to prepare for their daily activities, but they don't need to necessarily entirely give them up.

Whether you are just getting started using a urinary catheter or you need access to additional catheter accessories and supplies, our site is a great resource. Our Personally Delivered Product Experts are here to help you with all your catheter-related needs!