If you or someone you care for requires the use of a urinary catheter to empty the bladder, you should know the basics of intermittent catheterization. Intermittent catheterization is necessary when someone cannot empty their bladder completely.
Reasons People Need to Use Catheters
There are a number of conditions that could require intermittent catheterization, and people of all ages from newborn children to senior citizens use urinary catheters.
Some may need to catheterize due to a condition like Spina Bifida or a spinal cord injury, which can affect the nerves controlling the bladder (neurogenic bladder).
Other reasons to cath include multiple sclerosis, a stroke, bladder retention, incontinence, and other related conditions that may affect the bladder or urinary system.
Intermittent urinary catheters can be life-saving for those who have no ability to release urine naturally. If the bladder does not completely empty, a number of complications could occur, including infections that could become severe if left untreated.
Clean Intermittent Catheterization 101
The first thing to know is that not every catheterization schedule fits every single person. Depending on how much urine is retained or how severe their condition is, a person might need to self-catheterize anywhere from a few times a week to multiple times every day.
It’s best to consult with your urologist, primary care physician, or other prescribing healthcare professional for the type and size of catheter best suited for your anatomy. Your doctor will also be able to tell you how often you will need to cath and if this is a long- or short-term need.
Once you have that down, there are a few things to know to successfully cath. Whenever possible, try to catheterize in a clean environment.
You can’t always guarantee the sterility of the restrooms you’re at when in public, at work, at school, or on vacation. Using a product like a hydrophilic catheter or a closed system catheter may help reduce the risk of infection by keeping your hands off of the catheter tube itself as well as making the process more comfortable and well-lubricated.
A few supplies you may want to keep on hand include:
- Your catheters
- A discreet bag for disposal (if you wish to maintain privacy in a public restroom setting)
- Insertion supplies that may further help reduce the risk of infection such as gloves, an underpad, and disinfecting wipes
- Soap and a clean water supply to wash your hands before and after catheterization
- Lubrication (depending on the type of catheter you use)
You should wash your hands thoroughly with warm or hot water and soap before you begin handling the catheter. Using gloves or disinfecting wipes can also further help prevent contamination from any bacteria or other germs on your hands, and this may reduce your chances of getting a urinary tract infection.
What Else to Know About Catheters?
Intermittent catheters are single-use devices, which means that should be used only once and then thrown away. This helps prevent contamination and infection. The bacteria and pathogens left behind on or inside the catheter can cause illness if re-inserted into the body, and professional and home cleanings are generally not able to fully sterilize intermittent catheters.
It’s best to always practice good hygiene with a new, sterile catheter and accessories every time, and never re-use a catheter to help prevent the risks of infection.
At 180 Medical, we care about your health and your safety, so we offer a number of helpful resources to assist you as you begin using an intermittent catheter. For other questions, we encourage you to contact our team of Customer Specialists today!