Have you ever wondered whether you should throw away your intermittent catheters after you use them once? If so, you’re not the only one.
At 180 Medical, we occasionally hear from people who have been told that it’s safe or economical to reuse their intermittent catheters. However, there’s a very good reason why you may not want to risk washing and reusing your catheters!
The Surprise Risk of Reusing Catheters
UTIs (urinary tract infections) are a fairly common but painful ailment, and reusing catheters actually increases the risk of contracting this type of infection.
Multiple tests in professional research settings have indicated that there is a risk of contracting UTIs when reusing catheters even if the intermittent catheters are cleaned between uses.
In one laboratory test using PVC urethral catheters, it was found that a full antibacterial washing method still failed to sanitize 67% of the catheters.
No matter what your method of cleaning a catheter may be, pathogens and organisms, including E. coli, are often left behind in the tube and on its surface, and these can cause infections and illness.
The FDA recommends that intermittent catheters be considered single-use devices only. This is why you will see a small symbol that looks like a 2 with a slash over it (pictured to the right) printed on every catheter package. You can find out all about the rest of the symbols of your catheter’s packaging and what they mean in this helpful blog.
According to researchers at UBC (University of British Columbia), the idea that you can reuse your catheter without risk to your health is simply not true. A Vancouver clinician and professor of medicine at UBC, Dr. Andrei Krassioukov, pointed to his experience working at the Summer Paralympics in London. He found that the athletes who used their intermittent catheters once and then properly disposed of them experienced 3 to 4 times fewer UTIs than athletes who reused their catheters.
Urinary Tract Infections From Reusing Catheters
If you’ve ever experienced a UTI, you already know how painful and uncomfortable this type of infection can be. Usually, this type of infection must be treated with a round of antibiotics prescribed by your doctor or other healthcare professional.
UTIs lead to over 7 million physician visits each year, according to a recently published study, and the financial costs associated with UTIs in the United States alone total around $1.6 billion dollars annually.
Some of the most common symptoms of UTIs include:
- Smelly, cloudy, or bloody urine
- Pain in the abdomen and back or pain when urinating
- Burning sensation in the urethra
- Increased need to go to the restroom
- Urinary incontinence (inability to hold back your urine)
If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s important to schedule a visit with your doctor as soon as possible so you can be treated before the symptoms progress.
When UTIs go untreated, the infection may spread upwards to the bladder and even into the kidneys.
Kidney infections can be dangerous to the point of life-threatening symptoms that may require a trip to the emergency room and hospitalization.
This is why it’s so crucial to not only treat UTIs as soon as possible, but also to do all you can in practicing proper cathing hygiene to decrease your risk of infection.
UTI Prevention is Important
In fact, 180 Medical’s founder Todd Brown has personal experience with the pitfalls of reusing intermittent catheters. After Todd’s spinal cord injury, he washed and reused his intermittent catheters, but he kept getting recurrent UTIs that dragged down his health and energy levels. This was all while he was trying to get back to a normal life after rehabilitation therapy.
Thanks to some friends he met in the wheelchair racing community, Todd learned about sterile use (also called single use), which is the practice of using a catheter once and then disposing of it. He was also introduced to the world of advanced catheter products that are designed to reduce the risk of UTIs, like closed system catheters.
The recurrent UTIs that had plagued him went away, and Todd felt like his quality of life had taken a 180-degree turn.
This all led to Todd’s decision to create 180 Medical. He wanted to be able to turn other’s lives around too.
Today, Todd’s experience still guides us in all we do to provide our customers with high-quality, affordable urethral catheter products.
We understand that the process of ordering intermittent catheters can be daunting. Our trained Catheter Specialists will gladly listen to your needs, preferences, and budgetary concerns.
When you order through 180 Medical, we handle all the work in contacting your doctor for any necessary documentation that your insurance plan may require, and we even offer free shipping to get your order right to your door.
Contact us today to find the right catheter for you and start turning your life around!
Disclaimer: Please note that this post is not to be taken as medical advice and is only intended to provide a general understanding of the potential risks of reusing catheters according to research. This information should not be used in place of the recommendations and medical advice of your professional healthcare provider.
Sources: Kathleen Christison, Walter Matthias, Jean-Jacques J.M. Wyndaele, Michael Kennelly, Thomas M. Kessler, Vanessa K. Noonan, Fallah Nader, and Andrei V. Krassioukov. Journal of Neurotrauma. Apr 2018.
FME Wagenlehner, MD, PhD; KG Naber, MD, PhD. Urinary Tract Infections – General. www.antimicrobe.org