Intermittent catheters are a type of medical device that can be easily used by patients or their caregivers in the comfort of your own home. However, it is technically considered an invasive device, since it enters the body to drain the bladder. Therefore, it must be used properly to be fully effective and not hurt more than it helps. For instance, UTIs (urinary tract infections) are one of the most common side effects of catheter usage, but these infections and other side effects can be avoided just by following some guidelines:
Tips for Self-Cathing
Make an appropriate selection for your needs.
There are a variety of options available, but you and your treating health care provider can decide together what kind of catheter may work best for you.
Here are some factors to consider:
- Size: To minimize trauma and irritation to your urethra and to maximize urine flow, the correct French size of the catheter should be used. Your doctor can work with you to determine what size is most appropriate for your body.
- Material: Latex catheters were once the most common variety of catheter material, but as increasing numbers of people experience latex allergies, other options such as vinyl and silicone have been created to accommodate for these issues, as well as providing a slightly firmer tube for easier handling.
- Type: Intermittent catheters come in a variety of options. Straight catheters are affordable straight tubes that are manually lubricated and come in coudé (curved) insertion tip or rounded straight tip.
Your doctor can determine which type of insertion tip works best for your needs. Hydrophilic catheters come ready to lubricate via activation of sterile water, and once activated, they are super slippery for ease of insertion. Closed system catheters come in what are essentially on-the-go kits that allow for sterile and convenient cathing in places like public restrooms. These also often come with an easy introducer tip to help bypass the highest concentrations of bacteria in the first few millimeters of the urethra.
Practice proper technique.
Because a catheter is inserted into the urethra, it has the potential to introduce bacteria into the bladder. To minimize infection risks, catheter insertion should only be performed once you have been made aware of how to do so by a healthcare professional. Once you are home from your doctor’s office, the process of self-cathing may feel a little daunting, but with 180 Medical, you have access to specialists who can walk you through it over the phone, as well as learning materials like our DVD and booklets with step-by-step instructions.
Practice proper hygiene.
Intermittent catheters are considered single-use devices, so they should be used only once and then disposed of. While cleaning and reusing catheters may seem appealing to those who are trying to save a bit on medical supply costs, this practice makes UTIs much more likely. When you use a catheter, it’s nearly impossible to get it clean again, since it’s already been inserted into the body and contaminated by bacteria.
Using catheters once, on the other hand, means you will have a more sterile experience each and every time you self-cath. The chances of bacteria being carried into your urethra on the catheter is minimized significantly. Single use of catheters is safer and recommended by medical professionals.
One of the most important things that you will learn is the necessity of a clean environment when cathing. Make sure to wash your hands thoroughly before starting out. You can also keep some anti-bacterial wipes on hand with you to clean the area before insertion. Other items such as disposable gloves and an underpad to lay your supplies on can be helpful as well.