Catheters md top10mdCatheters are flexible tubes that are placed in body cavities to remove fluids, particularly urine. Catheters are not effective if they are not placed in the right position, or exchanged when old. Catheters are made of different materials. There are also different types. Catheters have many important functions and are used in various cavities of the body. You may be familiar with catheter use in the arteries, but it is also useful in the kidneys. Certain situations affect your ability to release urine. When you cannot go on your own, a catheter may be placed in the urethra to help.

Urine Control

Most people do not have trouble going to the restroom. When your bladder is full, nerves trigger the brain telling you that you have to go. When your brain is first triggered, you probably ignore it. If you continue to ignore those triggers, your bladder will fill up until it overflows. Some people have trouble controlling urination; either they cannot empty their bladder all the way, or they cannot hold it enough to make it to the bathroom. There are many sources of the problem.

Sometimes when you have trouble with urination, a catheter is the best way to treat the problem.

Catheter Use

There are several uses for a catheter. The two primary reasons for a catheter are the inability to empty your bladder completely or the inability to control bladder leakage. It is common to hear about people with urinary incontinence, but you may not be as familiar with urinary retention. There are several reasons why a person may not be able to urinate without a catheter. One of those reasons includes kidney stones, blood clots, and an enlarged prostate. Injuries to the spinal cord can cause urinary retention and in some cases urinary incontinence. Surgery will sometimes require temporary catheter use. Surgery on the prostate and genitalia are two types of surgeries that may require a catheter. Medications may also cause urinary retention. Sometimes medication can, unfortunately, impair the bladder muscles and cause them to squeeze too tightly allowing for the urine retention.

Catheter Types

There are three main types of catheters, but there are about four different materials that catheters are made from. Catheters can be

  1. Latex
  2. Rubber
  3. Silicone
  4. Plastic

The different materials allow doctors to choose one that is most comfortable for you. If you are allergic to latex, you can always change to a plastic or silicone catheter. The three types of catheters include:

  1. Indwelling Catheters
  2. External Catheters
  3. Short-Term Catheters

Indwelling Catheters are also called Urethral Catheters. An indwelling catheter is inside the bladder. They are for both short term and long term use. External catheters, also known as condom catheters are outside of the body, rather than inside. These catheters are effective for functional disabilities that cause urinary retention. These catheters are comfortable and can be changed daily. The risk of infection is minimal. Short-term catheters are also called intermittent catheters. These catheters are used after surgery. One the bladder empties, the catheter, is removed.

Catheter Insertion

Catheter insertion is dependent upon the type of catheter being put in place. For indwelling catheters, the catheter is inserted either through the urethra or a whole in the abdomen. Those that go through the abdomen are called Suprapubic Catheters. Once in place, a balloon is inflated to keep it from sliding out. An external catheter is placed on like a condom. It covers the head of the penis and connects to a drainage bag. Short- term catheters can be external or indwelling. They are taken out fairly quickly.

Catheter Risks

Using a catheter carries risks. Catheters can bring infections. When you have an infection, you may have a fever, chills, or blood in the urine. Sometimes you experience back pain and aching. Allergic reactions may happen, particularly with latex catheters. Other complications include bladder stones, kidney or urethra damage.

Catheter Care

Catheters md top10mdIt is important to keep the catheter clean. You should use both soap and water to clean the catheter, especially where it enters the body. You should follow the directions your doctor gives you. If you have an external catheter, make sure to change it daily. Not changing it daily will cause you to have complications and infections. Emptying the bag is important as well. If the bag is full, you should not continue to use it and then cause the urine to spill out of it. To clean the bag, you should use a mixture of water and vinegar. Sometimes you can use bleach. If you feel that the catheter is not in the right position, be sure to tell your doctor. Having the catheter in the wrong position can cause damage and make you very uncomfortable.

Catheters are not something people desire to have, but it can help you in many ways. Not being able to use the bathroom may not seem like a big deal, but it puts pressure on the kidneys and may cause damage. If you are using a catheter or need one, understanding how they work and how to keep it clean will help you decrease your risk of injury and infection.


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