July 16, 2018
10 Tips for Living with a Long-Term Catheter
Wondering how to safely live with a long-term catheter? In this article, we’ll take you through 10 tips that long-term catheter users should keep in mind. By following these tips for living with a catheter - male or female -
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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.
1. Unclogging a Catheter When Blockages Occur
Catheter blockages can be a severe 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 matters when it comes to using catheters. Larger and wider catheters may reduce flow – they promote bladder spasms, constricting the flow of urine. Try using the smallest catheter size possible unless specifically instructed otherwise (for example, if blood is present in your urine or you contract an infection).
2. Watch For Leaks In The Catheter
Urine may leak around the area of catheter insertion, typically due to some form of blockage.
Watch for faulty urine drainage bags, and always carry a spare for occasions like these. Leakage can happen if there are loose connections between your catheter and drainage bag. Make sure to check the integrity of all catheter connections regularly. Be careful not to overfill urine bags, as this may cause them to burst. Urine bags can carry up to a liter of fluid, and emptying the bag often can help avoid such a leak.
3. Make Sure To Watch When To Change Your Catheter
Wondering how often should a catheter be changed? If it’s draining well, a change every eight to 12 weeks should suffice.
This timespan should serve as a “happy medium” in terms of catheter changes. If you change your catheter too often, you risk causing trauma and infection; leave it too long, and bacteria can build up.
4. Prevent Infections With Your Catheter
Studies show that long-term catheter users are seven times more likely to contract a urinary tract infection. If you’re feeling catheter pain, there’s a chance you already have a catheter-associated UTI – this is one common symptom of an infection. Additional symptoms may include fever and foul-smelling, cloudy, or bloody urine.
One of the most important things you can do to reduce the risk of getting a UTI is regularly cleaning your catheter and drainage bags. Drinking plenty of water can help reduce infections by quickly flushing bacteria out of the body.
5. Know How To Carry Your Catheter Discreetly
If you don’t want your 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 your abdomen and under your clothing.
To make things easier for you, US MED offers carrying cases along with the catheters we sell. Best of all, these cases are provided free of charge to customers ordering catheters from us!
6. Learn What Healthy Urine Looks Like
When you are living with a catheter, you tend to learn what healthy urine looks like just by observing things like color, volume, and the presence of things like blood or debris. Ideally, your urine should be anywhere from deep amber to light yellow.
However, keep in mind that things like food or medication can change the color of urine drastically. If your urine is pink, red, or orange, if you can see blood in your urine, or if you have any other urine-related concerns, get in touch with your doctor.
7. Keep Other Catheter Alternatives In Mind
Do you need help emptying your bladder but don’t want to keep in a long-term catheter? If so, intermittent self-catheterization may be a good option for you. This process involves inserting a catheter long enough to drain the bladder before removing it.
Intermittent self-catheterization can be intimidating at first, but a healthcare professional will teach you about this process if you go this route. After some practice, this process will become second nature!
8. Be Wary Of Travelers’ Constipation
Always be prepared with spare catheter changing supplies, just in case you experience blockage or excessive leakage. If you’re traveling to a region with a hotter climate, be sure to increase your fluid intake. A 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 condition can cause catheters to leak or be blocked from the bowels, creating additional pressure. Light physical activity, fluids, and a healthy intake of fiber can help relieve this constipation.
9. Know When To Ask For Assistance When Using Your Catheter
Whenever your catheter falls out or leaks, or whenever you’re showing symptoms of infection, it’s a good idea to seek out professional advice from your health service provider. Talking about catheter use can be awkward for anyone. Still, your healthcare team will understand, and they’ll be able to provide the help you need.
A lack of urine flow is also worth mentioning to your doctor. Urine retention builds up in the bladder, potentially leading to kidney damage – and in that situation, 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. Several variables should be considered, such as fluids/alcohol consumption, climate, and medications taken.
10. Go To Your Doctor If You Need Help
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 is the best teacher for catheter use. Learning from others in a similar situation can also go a long way in finding new ways to make things a little easier. Communicate and share your experience with others, and look for ways to make their lives easier if at all possible.
Choose US MED For Your Catheter Needs
Living with a long-term catheter can have its challenges. By following the tips shared here and other common-sense precautions, however, you can use a bladder catheter safely.
If you need to order catheters or related products, US MED can help. We’ve helped more than 1 million people get the diabetes supplies they need. Our customer service is supported by an A+ Better Business Bureau rating and a 100% satisfaction guarantee. US MED offers straight and coudé catheters, hydrophilic catheters, closed system catheter kits, and external catheters. Your order will come with free shipping – and a free carrying case!