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July 16, 2018
10 Tips for Living with a Long-Term Catheter
Wondering how to safely live with a long-term catheter? We've got 10 important tips to share.
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Living with a long-term catheter is necessary for many patients. Here we take you through 10 tips that long-term catheter users should understand to mitigate health risks, such as UTIs and blockages.
Catheter blockages can be a serious issue for catheter users if the tubing bends or folds restricting the flow of fluids. Adjust the tubing and gently pinch it to allow for the passage of the blocked materials such as blood in the urine.
Size counts when pertaining to catheters, so larger and wider catheters may actually reduce flow since they promote bladder spasms, constricting the flow of urine. Try using the smallest size of catheter possible unless specifically instructed otherwise (if blood in the urine is present or if you contract an infection for example).
Urine may leak around the area of catheter insertion, this can typically be due to some form of blockage.
Watch for faulty urine drainage bags and always carry a spare for just such occasions. Leakage can happen if there are loose connections between catheter and drainage bag, so make sure to check integrity of all connections.
Be careful not to overfill urine bags causing them to burst. These urine bags can carry up to a liter so emptying the bag often can help avoid such a leak.
There are no hard and fast rules about when a long-term catheter should be changed. If it’s draining well, a change every eight to 12 weeks should suffice. Change it too often and you risk causing trauma and infection; leave it too long and bacteria can build up.
There are no set-in-stone rules about how often to change a long-term catheter. If it is flowing well, 8 to 12 weeks should be enough, keep in mind though if changed too often you could risk infection, too long and a build-up of bacteria is possible.
It has been proven that long-term catheter users are 7 times more likely to contract a urinary tract infection. Symptoms may include fever, foul smelling and cloudy urine (sometimes bloody), as well as pain at the catheter insertion site.
Otherwise instructed not to do so by your doctor, drinking plenty of water helps reduce infections by quickly flushing bacteria out of the body.
If you don’t want the urine collection bag to show you may attach a valve to the end of the catheter tubing which you can open when passing urine. You may also choose a bag that fits tightly against you abdomen and under your clothing.
When you are living with a catheter you tend to learn what healthy urine looks like, just by observing things like color, volume, and if there is any blood or debris. Keep in mind though that things like food or medication can change the color of urine drastically.
If you need to empty your bladder without the need of keeping in a long-term catheter, intermittent self-catheterization is the insertion of a catheter long enough to drain the bladder before removing it.
Always be prepared with spare catheter changing supplies just in case you experience blockage or excessive leakage. If traveling to a region with a hotter climate take note to increase fluid intake, lack of hydration can lead to infection and blockages.
Traveling on holidays can introduce dietary changes that may contribute to what is known as “Travelers’ Constipation”. This constipation can cause catheters to leak or be blocked from the bowels creating additional pressure to it. Light physical activity, fluids and a healthy intake of fiber can help relieve this constipation.
9. When to Ask for Assistance
Whenever your catheter falls out, leaking, or showing symptoms of infection, it’s a good idea to seek out professional advice from your health service provider.
When there is lack of urine flow, that retention builds up in the bladder which can lead to kidney damage, so prompt medical attention would be necessary. A good rule to keep in mind would be to check for a volume of urine output equal to your weight in kilograms per hour. Please note that many variables should be considered such as fluids/alcohol consumption, climate, and medications taken.
10. Who to Contact
While some people are more self-reliant than others having the option of professional medical help is always a good rule-of-thumb. When complications arise, General Practitioners and Specialists should be available should you need advice or assistance.
As in all things in life experience teaches best, so learning from others in a similar situation can go a long way in finding out new ways to make things a little easier. Communicate with others and share your experience and look for ways to make their lives easier if at all possible.
Living with a long-term catheter can have its challenges, but with care and these tips it can be done safely. Visit our product page to better understand which catheters US MED can ship to you for free. We always offer free shipping a free carrying case for all orders.