The human urinary system can fall prey to a variety of conditions that impair normal urine flow. If you have developed incontinence or cannot empty your bladder voluntarily, you may benefit greatly from the use of a medical device known as a catheter. However, you must know how to select and operate such a device.
The stronger your basic understanding of urinary catheter types and their proper use, the more easily you can get the best results from your catheter and figure out how to resolve any functional challenges it might present. Take a look at the following four points about urinary catheters.
- Situations That May Require a Catheter
People may require catheters for many reasons. In some, nerve damage or some other injury may have impaired or destroyed their ability to control the muscles that allow (or prevent) urine flow. In others, a temporary illness or injury may make going to the bathroom difficult or impossible.
Dementia can also prompt the need for catheterization, or the fitting of a catheter. Men who suffer from dementia have a urinary incontinence rate 3.2 times that of men without dementia. Women with dementia have 2.7 times the urinary incontinence rate of those without dementia.
- Types of Catheters
The three primary forms of catheters include indwelling catheters, external catheters, and intermittent catheters. The type of catheter you select will depend on your particular urinary challenge and/or other factors such as manual dexterity and the length of time you may need catheterization.
Indwelling catheters have a thin, elongated tube that inhabits the urethra and bladder. External catheters have a condom-like shape that fits onto the tip of the penis and acts as a funnel for urine. An intermittent catheter resembles a standard indwelling catheter, except that the user inserts it only as needed.
- How to Choose a Catheter
Men who suffer from simple urinary incontinence, an overactive bladder, dementia, or mobility challenges that keep them from reaching the bathroom in time may prefer external catheters because of their non-invasive nature. Women and anyone suffering from urinary retention, blockages, or other bladder problems need indwelling catheters.
Most catheters come with straight tips. However, if your doctor detects some abnormality in your urethral or bladder structure, you may receive a prescription for a coudé catheter, which features a curved tip for easier insertion.
You’ll need to purchase a catheter that suits your physical dimensions. Most adult males can accommodate a standard 16-inch catheter, while most women can make use of a catheter five to six inches in length, with diameters of various sizes available. Ask your doctor to recommend a specific catheter size.
- Common Catheter Challenges and Solutions
If you haven’t inserted a catheter before, you may struggle at first to do so comfortably. You can purchase lubricants (either separately or as part of a complete catheter package) to improve comfort and make insertion easier. Don’t force the catheter if it refuses to go in; instead, seek medical assistance.
You might discover that your catheter fails to send any urine to the attached drainage bag. This issue might occur if there is a kink between the catheter and the bag. If you can’t get any urine to enter the bag and you start to experience discomfort, treat it as an emergency and get immediate help from a medical professional.
Catheter use can sometimes lead to or aggravate a urinary tract infection (UTI). If you have a UTI, your urine may appear discolored or cloudy while also smelling unusually strong. Burning, fever, itching or soreness may also occur. You may need to drink more water and/or take antibiotics to get over a UTI.
If you or someone you love can benefit from a high-quality catheter, you’ll find what you need here at Corner Home Medical. Feel free to browse our selection of catheters and related products or contact us with any questions you may have.