To help you better understand catheters, we've examined the eight most frequently asked questions about catheters, along with answers.
1. What is a catheter?A catheter is a small rubber or plastic tube that is placed in your bladder to drain your urine. Catheters are available in a number of different sizes, styles and materials. You will need to do some experimenting to determine which kind works best.
2. How does it work?Self-catheterization only takes a few minutes and is rather easy. Make sure to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water, and you may use clean disposal gloves if you prefer. Lubricate the tube with a water-soluble lubricant and carefully insert it into the urethra. Once the tube reaches the bladder, the urine should begin flowing through the catheter naturally. When it stops flowing, slowly remove the catheter. If it's your first time, you may want to ask your doctor to show you how to use it. After some practice, it will get easier.
3. Why do I need one?A catheter is necessary if your bladder cannot hold all of your urine or you cannot empty your bladder completely. The catheter helps to drain and empty your bladder.
4. How long does it take to empty my bladder with a catheter?This will ultimately depend on the diameter of the catheter and how much urine you need to release. Typically, a few seconds to a minute is the average time.
5. How will I know if it has entered my bladder?Typically, once the catheter has entered your bladder, urine should begin to flow out of the catheter, which will continue until your bladder is fully empty.
6. When can I remove it?You can remove the catheter once the flow of urine has stopped.
7. How often can I use a catheter?Usually catheters are used infrequently, but it is OK to use them more regularly. This will depend upon your individual health needs. You may want to speak to your doctor if you're unsure.
8. Are there complications involved in using a catheter?You may feel a slight burning sensation after removing the catheter, but this will pass with time and use. The more practice you have in using a catheter, the more comfortable it will become. There may also be an increased risk of Urinary Tract Infections, as well. If you encounter any symptoms of a UTI such as consistent burning in the urethra, feeling an urge to urinate more frequently than usual, fever, or cloudy urine, consult your doctor. You can reduce the risk of UTIs by using your catheter one time only.
Please note that this is intended to provide a general understanding of urinary catheters. It should not be used in place of a visit, call, or consultation with a physician or other health care provider. Please let us know if you have any questions, we'd be happy to help.