Catheter FAQs

At some point in your life, you may need urinary catheterization which can be scary if you don’t know anything about using a catheter. Talking to your urologist gives you some insight into what to expect from the procedure. However, knowing all the facts about catheters before catheterization quells your fear.

What is are urinary catheters?

You need a urinary catheter, but have no clue what it is. Knowing what a urinary catheter is helps you understand how catheterization works.

  • A urinary catheter is a thin, flexible tube inserted into your bladder to drain urine.
  • They can be made of plastic, rubber, silicone, or latex.
  • There are several types of catheters such as an indwelling also known as a Foley catheter, an external or condom made specifically for men, and single-use for self-catheterization.

Are they safe?

As with any procedure or foreign object placed inside your body, there are inherent risks associated with catheters. However, if used properly including frequent changing and cleaning, the risks are minimal.

  • Catheters can be associated with urinary tract infections. Safe Care Campaign states, “Catheter associated urinary tract infections are the most common nosocomial infection”.
  • Urethral problems can occur in men. Medscape states. “Problems can include urethritis or inflammation of the urethral meatus from frequent catheter insertion”.
  • In more severe cases, bleeding can occur. Urology at UCLA notes, “It’s normal to have some small blood clots from urine drainage. However, call your doctor if there is more blood than normal or you see larger size clots”.

How do I clean my catheter?

Once you are catheterized, cleaning is vital to your overall health and impedes infections. A properly cleaned catheter equals a healthy bladder and urinary tract.

  • Always wash your hands with soap and water before and after draining and cleaning. Sanitary conditions quell serious infections.
  • When draining the bag, make sure to hold the drainage tube over the toilet, insuring not to touch the tip of the valve or toilet.
  • To clean the drainage tube, use an alcohol wipe on the valve tip and close the valve.
  • You must also clean the tubing with warm soapy water and drainage bag as well with a solution of warm soapy water, the a vinegar mixture of one part vinegar and three parts water, drain, rise, and air dry.

What do catheters do?

A catheter is inserted into the bladder either temporarily or permanently to help drain urine. If you are unable to urinate on your own or if you have certain types of cancer, this product relieves your bladder of fluid buildup.

  • An indwelling catheter collects urine through an attached collection bag. This type of catheter is for both long and short periods of time.
  • A condom catheter is used specifically on men and attaches over the penis. This type of catheter requires no insertion of a tube. However, a tube leads from the condom catheter into a drainage bag.
  • An intermittent catheter is used when you only need catheterization sometimes or you do not want to wear a bag. This type can be changed several times a day and is most helpful for people who suffer from bladder retention.

Whether your catheterization is temporary or permanent, knowing the facts eases your fears. When your doctor diagnoses incontinence if you understand what it is, the risks, how to properly clean, and the purpose, the doubts and fears you feel about catheterization should subside.

Your incontinence supplies may even be covered by your health insurance. To see if your policy covers the cost, complete the Qualify Through Insurance form and an Aeroflow representative will contact you about your coverage and your options. For more immediate assistance, please call Aeroflow Healthcare at 844-276-5588.


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