Patients that suffer from ailments such as urinary incontinence often use catheters to relieve them of their ailment. In simple words, it’s a tube that’s moved into the body in an attempt to clear out your bladder when you can't do it on your own. At first, a lot of people ask, ‘How does a catheter work?’, which is exactly why we have written this article. This all intensive guide will teach you all the information you need, from what it actually is, to all the different types. If you recently had a catheter inserted, you most likely had it done in a hospital. Chances are they skimmed through how to do it on your own, and considering you may be living with them for a considerable amount of time, everything in this article may be a necessity.
First of all, let's talk about Urinary Catheters.
Patients use urinary catheters when they have trouble emptying their bladder on their own. A large variety of physical ailments can cause this, and regardless of which one is dubbed the causal factor, it’s an incredibly uncomfortable experience. A lot of the time it can actually be quite painful as well. This type of catheter is put inside your body through your urethra (this is correct for both men and women). It’s somewhat unusual but patients may also have a catheter inserted through their abdomen should the urethra route be inaccessible. Regardless of the route, the catheter makes its way toward your bladder and lets waste through it. For those that are unfamiliar with what the bladder actually is, it is essentially the organ in your body that stores all of your urine. Your bladder is located in extremely close proximity to your kidneys. This means if your bladder isn’t emptied, chances are your kidneys will be affected in a large variety of negative ways. Generally, this type of urinary catheter is only permanent if you’ve suffered some sort of injury or complication. Otherwise, it’s a temporary solution to an unfortunate problem.
Why would surgery require you to use a catheter?
Generally, catheters are required after an injury or illness of some kind, but they may be needed after intense surgery as well. There are quite a few surgeries in which the process of repairing another organ temporarily injures the bladder. A prominent example is a prostatectomy. For those that are unaware, a prostatectomy is a fairly normal routine in which a man with prostate cancer undergoes some sort of removal. Whether it be a partial or full prostate organ removal, chances are your bladder may function improperly for a small amount of time. Hence the temporary use of a catheter. Generally, after having part of or the entire prostate removed, a lot of men may need to use a catheter anywhere from 5 to 10 days (depending on the intensity of the procedure). Somes various medications used during surgery can even cause bladder problems and will warrant the use of a urinary catheter.
How many types of catheters are out there?
Although urinary catheters tend to be the most commonly used, there are actually quite a few catheter types. Below we will go in-depth on each type of catheter that’s commonly used by most medical institutions in North America. Each catheter may cause a variety of negative side effects (most of which are discussed below). If you experience any of them, be sure to contact a medical professional right away. Fortunately, most of these are not common and are typically only common when complications arise.
Straight catheters are a very common type of catheter. Typically they’re used only temporarily, but they have been known to work as a somewhat long term solution (although you’ll need to speak to a medical professional for more information on this). Straight catheters are inserted directly through the urethra and into the bladder. Typically they are used as a one-time procedure. For perspective, if you are having trouble urinating on your own, chances are a medical professional will use a urinary catheter, drain your bladder, and immediately dispose of the device.
Like straight catheters, these are also used temporarily. Often they’re one-time-use devices. Coude catheters are curved on one end and are only used when straight catheters become obsolete or are not easily used. For example, some prostate conditions may warrant the use of a code catheter for a straight option may not insert correctly or without hassle.
This particular catheter type is more of a long term device. It’s meant for continuous use, rather than single-use. It’s inserted into the body in the same way as the straight and code catheters but has a bag that inflates once it has reached the bladder. This bag ensures that the catheter does not move.
Sometimes various injuries and ailments may injure the urethra to point of the above options becoming obsolete. If you can’t insert a catheter through the urethra, you’ll need to insert it through the abdomen. That’s exactly where the suprapubic catheter comes in. It’s specifically designed for this type of use.
Similarly to an actual condom, this type of catheter slides over the head of a man’s genitals. This is typically only done when the person loses control of their bladder, and cannot make it to a restroom in time.
Are there any risks when it comes to using a catheter?
Generally, catheters don't cause any complications, but they are possible. If you suffer from any of the following side effects or ailments, be sure to notify your general practitioner or family doctor immediately.
Urine Leaks - Typically urine leaks are not as big a deal as some may think. Often it simply means that catheter insertion was done incorrectly, and simply requires correction. If left for a long duration of time, and incorrectly inserted catheter may cause some of the below ailments and/or negative side effects. Speak to a medical professional immediately if this happens to you.
Blockage - If you suffer from a urine blockage while using a catheter, chances are you need to correct the placement of the catheter. However, it may mean the catheter is pressing on something it should be, which can of course cause a large variety of negative side effects. Speak to a medical professional immediately if this happens to you.
Cloudy Urine - Cloudy urine is not a good thing. It may mean the device is not doing its job effectively and/or correctly. Cloudy urine may be a sign of other ailments that were previously unwitnessable. Speak to a medical professional immediately if this happens to you.
Foul Smelling Urine - Foul-smelling urine may be a sign that your catheter is not doing its job effectively and/or correctly. Foul-smelling urine may be a sign of other ailments that were previously unwitnessable. Speak to a medical professional immediately if this happens to you.
Bloody Urine - Bloody urine may be a sign that your kidneys are failing. Speak to a medical professional immediately if this happens to you.
Fever - If you experience a fever of any severity, you need to speak with a medical professional right away. A fever is a dangerous ailment that may be a sign of a more severe underlying illness and/or complication.
Irritated Skin - If the skin around the catheter becomes inflamed, irritated, or itchy, chances are you may have a mild allergy to the catheter’s material. If this is the case, be sure to contact a medical professional immediately. If you suffer from a severe allergy when using a catheter, be sure to call the appropriate first responders, or 911 if appropriate.
For more information...
If you still don't have your questions answered with respect to how to use a catheter, the different types of catheters, and/or anything else you need to know, be sure to contact a medical professional. Your family doctor/general practitioner is a great place to start. If they’re not the medical professional overseeing your use of a catheter, chances are they will work with who actually is, or refer you to someone who can.
Improper use of a catheter can lead to serious injury and/or long-lasting injuries. This article is not legal advice, meaning if you use a catheter inappropriately, you may not use this article as a legal route of avoidance. We do not mean to hold this information to be completely relevant to every situation. This is a general overview designed to help people learn what catheters actually are, not necessarily how to use them on their own.