A urinary catheter is a flexible tube that drains urine from your bladder. The goals of catheterization are to empty your bladder regularly, keep you dry and avoid over-swelling of the bladder.
There are 3 main types of catheters.
Indwelling catheters, which are left in the bladder and collect urine by attaching to a drainage bag.
Intermittent self-catheters are used when the patient advances the catheter into their bladder themselves. It is typically removed after the bladder has been drained. This is unlike an indwelling catheter that remains in place.
Condom catheters are used almost exclusively for urinary incontinence in men. A condom-like device is placed over the penis and a tube leads from the device to a drainage bag.
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are a common problem with urinary catheters. These infections are sometimes called catheter-acquired or catheter-associated UTIs.
Symptoms of UTIs may include pain or burning when you urinate, an urgent need to urinate often, cloudy or smelly urine and pain in your back. The good news is there are ways to lower your chances of getting a UTI while using catheters.
Keep the area around the catheter clean.
Always wash your hands before and after placing your catheter.
Drink plenty of fluids to help prevent infections, especially water.
Keep the catheter tubes from “kinking” or twisting.
Keep your urine bag below the level of your bladder.
Dr. Brian Stork is a urologist with Michigan Medicine in Muskegon, Mich.
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