Urinary catheter management becomes a huge presence in your life once you have one inserted. There are two really important reasons for this.
First, you need to make sure the thing doesn’t get pulled out. Most types of urinary catheters are held in place via a balloon inside your bladder, which is inflated with saline solution and is about the size of golf ball. So you can imagine what kind of problems might be associated with something pulling that balloon through your urethra (or small hole in your belly/bladder in the case of a suprapubic catheter). Jeez, it makes me cringe just thinking about it. So just being super careful about securing the catheter and making darned sure it doesn’t get tangled up or hooked on anything is a big part of urinary catheter management.
Avoiding The Dreaded UTI
The second biggest reason for carefully managing your catheter is to prevent urinary tract infection. The longer you have to wear an indwelling catheter, the more likely you are to have a UTI, generally speaking. So you really have to be vigilant about cleaning the area where the tube enters your body often. Twice a day with soap and water is recommended.
You also need to drink lots and lots of water to keep things flushed out and moving in the right direction, which is down and out of your body. That means you should avoid ever having your drainage bag above the level of you bladder for more than a few seconds at a time, if ever. Urine that is in the bag should NEVER flow back into the bladder if at all possible. And you should also try to limit the amount of time that the outlet of your catheter is exposed to the elements (air, water, etc.).
There is not a lot of scientific evidence for this part, but I think it is worth doing since it isn’t hard and could be helpful. It seems to make sense – and that is to wear your bedside drainage bag while in the shower. Some medical professionals say just to let the catheter dangle (not attached to a bag) while you’re in the shower. The argument goes that folks with indwelling catheters are already colonized with bacteria, so you’re not likely to lower you odds of infection if you leave the outlet open in the shower and briefly when changing bags. But something in me says that since there isn’t any harm in keeping the big bag (bedside drainage bag vs the leg bag) on in the shower and pinching the outlet shut when changing bags. So you might as well do it. It seems logical to me that severely limiting the time my outlet is open should help prevent a UTI. So despite the lack of evidence, I’m hedging my bets on that one.
This site is here to provide information and tips for urinary catheter management. That is literally the reason I started it. So if you have anything else to add, please leave a comment!