For some people, finding out that they have to live with a catheter can be upsetting. For others, they’re just glad their retention or incontinence problems have been solved. While initial reactions vary, the majority of patients and their loved ones will have numerous questions for their doctor about everything from how catheters work to dealing with CAUTIs. Here are a few of the answers.
What are the different types of catheters?
The first thing to know is that your experience will be different depending on which type of catheter you have. There are four main types:
1. External catheter
Also known as a condom catheter or a male catheter, it consists of a sheath made out of PVC, latex or silicone, with an adhesive to attach it to the penis, and the standard tube coming out of the other end, connected to a drainage bag. This is often an alternative to disposable underwear for men.
2. Intermittent urinary catheter
An intermittent urinary catheter is inserted through the urethra (the duct that removes urine from the body) to reach the bladder. The catheter is inserted into the urethra to empty the bladder and then removed right away, with a new one being used each time.
3. Indwelling urinary catheter
Also known as a Foley catheter, an indwelling urinary catheter is also inserted through the urethra. However, this one is not removed after use; it uses a water-filled balloon to remain inside the bladder. The urine drains into a collection bag outside the body, and the catheter is changed roughly every three months.
4. Suprapubic catheter
A suprapubic catheter is only used when you are unable to use an intermittent catheter, or your urethra is damaged or otherwise blocked. It is inserted directly into the bladder via a small incision in the abdomen and held in place with a water-filled balloon. The urine drains into a collection bag, and the catheter is changed every six to eight weeks.
Of these three types, an intermittent catheter requires relatively little adaptation, with indwelling and suprapubic catheters requiring more.
What are some common issues with catheters?
Typically, a catheter does not interfere with your normal activities. You may be required to drain your collection bag now and again, but this is not too dissimilar from needing to go to the toilet. Your doctor can change an indwelling or suprapubic catheter for you, though in some cases you may be taught to change it yourself. However, there are a few pressing issues that are commonly brought up:
- Appearance – Many people find catheters embarrassing to show in public. It can negatively affect your self-image, especially with the collection bag strapped to your leg. Fortunately, with a bit of planning, it can be relatively easy to hide a catheter under your clothing. The tube itself is very flexible and can be taped to your body to make it more discreet, and wise wardrobe choices like loose trousers can ensure the collection bag is just as hidden.
- Sex life – It’s a question that many have when first getting a catheter. Intermittent and suprapubic catheters should not adversely affect your sex life, but an indwelling one may make it more awkward. For men, the tube can be aligned and kept underneath a sheath or condom to make sex possible. For women, the tube can be taped along the stomach to keep it out of the way. Some users have also reported symptoms such as blood in their urine afterwards, and such symptoms should be discussed with your doctor.
- Infection – Catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTIs) are one of the biggest risks of having a catheter. With an indwelling catheter, the chances of contracting an infection are almost 100% within a month. While many are not serious, if left untreated, they can develop into something worse. Practising good hygiene and washing the catheter regularly is a good way of preventing these infections, but it’s not guaranteed. Alternatively, you can use UroShield to lower the risk of infection by almost 90%.
How can I prevent catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTIs)?
UroShield is a device that uses low-frequency ultrasonic Surface Acoustic Waves (SAW) to prevent bacteria from attaching to the surface of the catheter. It’s easy to use, effective, and best of all, it’s discreet – so you don’t have to worry about another thing affecting your daily routine.
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