Do You Need a Catheter? 6 Tips for Safely Using It at Home

Catheter plugs

Catheter use is nothing new. Their use dates back about 3500 to ancient Syria where the people created early catheters from reeds to help people who were unable to drain their bladders naturally. They were called “Katheter” and this was a reference to any kind of instrument or even catheter plugs that were inserted. The word was derived from the Greek word, “kathiemai.” This meant “let down.” The modern, flexible catheter was invented by Benjamin Franklin, in 1752, who wanted to help his brother when he was suffering from bladder stones. Back then this was a big deal, today people can go to any medical supply store and get what they need.

Today, catheters and other devices to help people with urinary continence issues of all types has become a global market that is worth about $1.8 billion every year. There are a number of reasons people need to use urinary catheters at home. They get their urological supplies from the medical supply store or online. People who need to take care of someone with a catheter or have one themselves often have a lot of questions about how they should take care of themselves and the catheter while they have it. Here are some of the issues they deal with and the best way to handle certain circumstances.

  1. How should people with urinary catheters bathe? People who are using urinary catheters should have no problems when they shower as they normally do but the water should not be very hot or cold. The only exception to that would be if their medical doctor has advised against it. Everyone has different situations and should always listen to their physicians’ advice. Typically, people who are using catheters should not take baths.
  2. Can people with catheters use body lotion and moisturizer? You can use products to moisturize your skin but they should not be used at or on the catheter site. If you need something for lubrication, you can get different products at the medical supply store or at a special urological supply store. These products will help prevent any irritation.
  3. How often should the catheter be washed? It is very important that you keep the catheter clean. Most experts advise they be cleaned at least twice a day with regular soap and water. The catheter bag needs to be emptied twice a day and the leg bag extension tubing should be cleaned at the same time. If the bag gets to be half full, it is time to empty it. The urinary drain bags should be cleaned every day. They are often replaced at least twice a month or more if the physician recommends it. All of these supplies can be obtained at the medical supply store. You should place a piece of gauze around the catheter site, This will help should there be a leak.
  4. When draining the bag remember to:
    • Use gloves and never drain the bag unless you have washed your hands. Wash again after.andnbsp;
    • Do everything in a well lit area.
    • Do not touch the inside of the collection container or the cap.
  5. Should people with urinary catheters avoid certain foods or drinks? People advice catheter users to consume a lot of water and juices and eat a diet that is rich with fruits and vegetables.
  6. Are there any warning signs if there is a problem with the catheter? Medical experts recommend people look out for the following signs and symptoms and contact their doctor’s office if they notice any of them:
    • Excessive draining, swelling and/or redness. Any leaking should also be reported to a doctor.
    • Any changes in the consistency, color or smell the urine. If there is any blood in it or if it is different from how it normally looks and smells, a doctor should be called.
    • The person develops a fever that is over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Even if you think it is caused by something else, a physician should be consulted. This is especially true if the person is also experiencing chills, nausea and/or vomiting.Lower back or abdominal pain that can be severe (this can indicate a kidney infection and can be serious).

It takes some getting used to but catheter use can really improve your quality of life.

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