Catheter Care

Catheter Care

A urinary catheter is a long and hollow rubber drainage tube that is inserted into the main body cavity in the bladder region, via the urethra. For indwelling catheters, a small balloon is inflated towards the top of a tube, as soon as it is inserted, to keep it in its place.

The other end of the tube is connected to a small catheter bag (urine bag). The urine bag is put on the abdomen. With the aid of gravity, urine flows from the catheter tube into the urine bag.

Whether you’re using an external (condom) catheter, intermittent catheter or an indwelling (Foley) catheter, you need to keep it clean at all times. The reason is that catheters are always in contact with your external skin and internal organs. Failure to clean and replace catheters on a timely basis leads to accumulation of bacteria and a series of infections and health implications.

Catheter care refers to the process of cleaning the catheter, discharging and replacing the urinary bag and ensuring that the tube remains free from germs and blockages. Properly cleaning your catheter on a timely basis keeps you safe from diseases and ailments, such as Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs). Here’s a short DIY guide on catheter care:

Precautionary Tips

If you’re at home, there are various ways to care for your catheter. The key is to be alert to all conditions that may indicate that your catheter needs cleaning. Make sure to replace the catheter after 2-3 weeks of usage and:

  • Ensure that the urine keeps flowing out of the catheter directly into the catheter bag
  • Frequently check the area around your urethra for redness and inflammation
  • Make sure that the skin around your urethra is not irritated, swollen or damaged
  • Always place the urinary drainage bag below the level of your bladder
  • Allow some slack in the tube connecting the catheter to your bladder

General Instructions

  • You need not remove your catheter before you shower
  • Avoid too hot or too cold water, when showering
  • After each bowel movement, wash the area where the catheter enters your body
  • Use soap and water to clean the area where the catheter meets your body
  • Drink plenty of fluids every day to maintain your urine flow (ideally, 6-8 glasses of water)
  • Avoid sexual intercourse or any other sexual activity when using a catheter
  • Eat plenty of fiber foods to keep yourself safe from constipation
  • Do not pull your catheter
  • Do not try to take out your catheter, if it is connected to your bladder
  • Follow the instructions mentioned on the catheter kit

When Draining your Leg Bag

The bag that collects and stores urine can easily be strapped to your thighs or placed underneath your bed while you sleep at night. You will have to empty the bag on a regular basis, especially if it gets half-full. Here is what you need to do:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water, before and after emptying the urinary bag
  • Use disposable gloves if you have to change someone else’s urinary bag
  • Before draining the urinary bag, unfasten the tube
  • To remove the drainage cap, unlock the tubing clamp
  • Drain the urine into your toilet or a large metal or plastic container
  • Avoid touching the drainage cap or tubing on the toilet surface or the container
  • Close the clamp, replace the drainage cap and refasten collection tube into drainage bag
  • Refasten the collection tube onto the drainage bag
  • Make sure to wash your hands with soap after emptying the drainage bag
  • It is always advisable to read the catheter instructions mentioned in the kit and clean accordingly. After a few weeks, you should consider replacing your intermittent catheter. Make sure you visit a licensed physician for the catheter removal process

Thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water

  • Carefully unfasten your lower leg strap
  • Remove the cap gently and open the clamp
  • Make sure not to touch the drain port with your fingers
  • Run the urine into a large metal container to measure the amount of urine
  • Wipe the drain port with a cotton ball or gauze soaked up in an antiseptic solution
  • Wash your hands again with soap and water

Caring for Drainage Bags

  • Disconnect the urinary bag and wash it with warm water and soap
  • Rinse it thoroughly with warm water to remove soap
  • Disinfect the used urinary bag with the help of water and white (distilled vinegar)
  • Wash your hands with soap and water, after cleaning the urinary bag

Applying before Bedtime

Once you have connected your urinary bag to the catheter before going to bed, it is best to decide which side of the bed you want the urinary bag to hang. Use a hypoallergenic tape to secure the urinary bag on either side of your bed.

It is highly suggested that you consult your doctor and have your catheters changed and replaced by a physician or a nurse (except in the case of condom catheters). To learn more about how to care for catheters and to check out our catheter supplies, please call us today!

When to Call a Doctor?

If you have procured an external or intermittent catheter from an online supplier, then you should contact your doctor if any (or all) of the following conditions arise:

  • Very little or no urine is flowing into the collection bag for 4 or more fours
  • You experience severe pain in your legs, abdomen, back or pelvis region
  • Very little or no urine passes into the collection bag when your bladder is full
  • Your urine changes color, becomes cloudy or contains large blood clots
  • Your urine smells foul
  • You experience vomiting, nausea and/or shaking chills
  • The urine starts to leak from the site of tube insertion
  • If you have a high fever with back pain