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A urinary catheter is a hollow tube that collects urine from the bladder and fills it into a drainage bag. Urinary catheter is necessary for people who can’t empty their bladders. A full bladder puts pressure on the kidneys, leading to kidney failure in the long run. Catheters are used temporarily until the person regains the ability to urinate on their own.

Elderly people and those with an illness or injury may have to wear it for longer.

You may need to use a catheter in the following conditions:

  • Urine incontinence
  • Urinary retention
  • Surgery on prostate or genitals
  • Have spinal cord injury or dementia
  • Injury to the nerves in the bladder
  • Medications that impair the ability of your bladder muscles to squeeze, which causes urine to remain stuck in your bladder
  • Spinal bifida
  • Hysterectomy
  • Enlarged prostate glands

If you are suffering from any of the above conditions, a doctor may recommend using a catheter for a while.

There are mainly three types of catheters:

1. Indwelling catheters: This type of catheter resides in the bladder. The catheter is inserted through the urethra and it collects urine outside the body through a tube, in a bag. This bag can be secured to your leg, that way you can wear it under your clothes.

2. External catheters: This catheter is placed outside the body. It’s necessary for men who don’t have urinary retention problems but have serious functional or mental disabilities, such as dementia. A device that looks like a condom covers the penis head. A tube leads from the condom device to a drainage bag. It is also called a condom catheter.

These catheters are more comfortable and have a lower risk of infection than indwelling catheters.

3. Short-term catheters: These are used for a very short amount of time immediately after surgery when patients find it hard to empty their bladders. It can be done through the urethra or through a hole created in the lower abdomen for catheterization.

Taking care of a Urinary catheter:

One-time use catheters and reusable catheters are available in the market. Be sure to clean the reusable catheters well- both the catheter and the area where it enters the body with soap and water to reduce the risk of a urinary tract infection. One-time use catheters come in sterile packaging, so only your body needs cleaning before inserting the catheter. Drink enough water and empty the drainage bag every eight hours. Ask your doctor the best way to clean your drainage bag.

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