Tips for Living With a Catheter at Home and Out on the Town!

close up view of nurse holding urinary catheter prior to use.It can be difficult trying to adjust to a new way of living as we age, especially if there’s medical equipment involved. Suddenly, you find yourself with endless new rules to remember. You might get frustrated at times, but you shouldn’t let it discourage you. While it may take some time and effort to get used to, you can find a way to lead a relatively normal life with a catheter.

Disclosure: this post is being contributed by Comfort Medical, an online supplier of catheter and ostomy supplies. I did NOT receive any compensation for posting this but do earn a small commission if you click these links and use their services. 

The Basics

First and foremost, it is very important to listen to your doctor or nurse when they first give you your equipment. Maybe even bring along something to write down some of the advice they give you when it comes to caring for and replacing your catheter supplies.  They are also sure to show you how to keep it in good condition as well as how and when to empty it. Make sure you get all of this information and ask any questions you need to, they are professionals and there to help you!

Never again run out of catheter or ostomy supplies – ComfortMedical.com

Types of Urinary Catheters

There are two main types of catheters, intermittent and indwelling.

Intermittent catheters

Intermittent catheters are meant for one-time use and are disposed of after. Use varies from person to person and you may be advised to use it only when you feel you need to or you might have to set specific times to use it at certain times throughout the day. There are many resources online that can help when it comes to inserting the catheter itself.

Indwelling catheters

Indwelling catheters are long term, and are replaced about every two to three months, usually by a doctor or nurse. These catheters can be drained in one of two ways.

The first is through a valve that empties right into a toilet or container. The valve must be used regularly throughout the day to keep urine from building up in the bladder.

The second way to drain an indwelling catheter is with a bag that attaches to your leg. This requires less trips to the restroom, but you have to be attentive and make sure you empty the bag when it is about half full. You should also attach a larger bag at night since you won’t empty it while you sleep.

One thing to keep in mind regardless of if you have a bag or a valve is that both should be replaced about once a week.

Catheter Care & Preventing Infections

You are more likely to develop an infection with a long-term catheter. But, regardless there are many things you should make sure to do to with any catheter to prevent infections and other problems such as blockages.

Cleanliness is the biggest part of the care routine. You should wash the area where the catheter enters your body and the area surrounding it at least twice a day, as well as your hands before you touch or handle any of the catheter equipment.

Hydration also plays a big role. You should be increasing your water intake, not only to keep your urine clean, but also to prevent constipation, both of which can lead to blockages or infection.

Going Out

Catheters are often prescribed to people with serious illnesses or disabilities. While those illnesses can make it hard to go out, having a catheter shouldn’t be THE reason you stay at home.

When going out, you should take special notice of where the restrooms are. If possible, you can also call ahead to make sure whichever place you go has the accommodations you need.

Make sure you know your schedule and adjust knowingly to your situation. For example, if you know you’ll be out for a long period of time, be sure to wear a bigger drainage bag to store more urine. Don’t forget to bring extra supplies along so you are well prepared.

It may take a bit more planning, but your social life does not have to be put on hold for your catheter. With just a couple of preparations, you can have the same nights out you always have.

Apparel

Believe it or not, what you wear is essential to your comfort when living with a catheter.

Avoid tight-fitting pants or jeans, as most bags have tubing that can tend to catch on the fabric and come undone. When choosing your wardrobe, opt for looser fitting pants that you can wear comfortably while still leaving room for your drainage bag. This can lead to many preventable incidents.

Regardless, make sure to be very alert and constantly check your tubing to make sure nothing has disconnected.

Discretion

It can be inconvenient and undesirable to have a noticeable drainage bag, especially when going out. Luckily there are alternatives that are a bit more discreet than a regular leg bag.

Instead of a bag, you can attach a valve to the end of your tubing, and only need to open it when you need to drain urine. While this makes your catheter easy to hide, it can be an inconvenience to have to remember to drain it yourself instead of having a bag to store the urine in. This can prove especially troublesome if you do not experience “urges” and can lead to some incidents, so use with caution.

Another option is using a “belly bag,” a drainage bag that fits right against your abdomen and is particularly easy to cover up with clothing.

Support

It can be very taxing to try and adjust to a new way of living. It is even harder if we are forced to do it on our own. Having someone who is willing to help if needed or just to provide emotional support can make a world of a difference. A quick search online can come up with a number of support groups and organizations that you can consider joining.

There are also ways to lighten the load on yourself, such as having your supplies automatically shipped. In any case, the most important thing to keep in mind is that it is possible to lead a normal life with a catheter, and anyone is capable of it.

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