How To Cope with a Catheter

Having a catheter can be both uncomfortable and embarrassing. However, it is likely only necessary for you to have one for a short period of time, so it is definitely something that you should be able to manage. If you find that you're struggling with your catheter, consider these suggestions on how to cope with it.

Step 1

Know why it's necessary to have one. If you have a urinary catheter, it may be necessary in order to save your life. Chances are your liver or bladder isn't working exactly as it should be. And if your body can't drain excess fluids through your bladder, the build-up of them within you can be harmful to your health. Catheters help to bypass clogs or obstructions, clear up infections, and monitor your urine production after surgery. You'll need a bit of patience to cope with a catheter, but you should at least understand why it is necessary to have one.

Step 2

Prepare for the insertion.  If you've never had a catheter inserted before, don't expect it to be to pleasant. You'll need to lie on your back with your knees raised, legs bent and heels apart. (Women will have to have their legs spread wide open). The nurse will then require you to take deep and slow breaths as she cleans your private area. Once you have been sanitized, she'll insert the catheter. At this point, it's important to relax your pelvic muscles since tension makes insertion more difficult. The nurse will let you know any other specific movements you need to make.

Step 3

Keep the bag and the tubing in the right place. After your catheter has been inserted, ensure that you keep your urinary bag lower than your bladder all the time. Gravity doesn't falter-your urine needs to be able to fall into the bag and if the bag isn't lower than your bladder, your bladder won't drain properly (and you could be in for some serious discomfort).

Make sure that the loose tubing between your body and the bag is in a comfortable position. If you let it rub against your skin for any length of time, you'll likely be dealing with chaffing and irritated sensitive areas. It's best to keep the tubing off of your skin (using tape or clips) to avoid having to cope with additional pain caused by catheter tubing.

Step 4

Keep the area clean. For the duration of your catheter use, cleanliness should be your number one priority. Keep the area around your private parts clean at all times. If you are unable to do this yourself, the nurses will do this at least 3 times per day. It will decrease your risk of infection as long as the tubing is inside of you. As well, applying additional antimicrobial solutions will keep infection further at bay. Pain and discomfort are definitely not what you want to have to cope with when you've got a catheter.

Step 5

Call a nurse if there is any problem. At any point when you're wearing a catheter, if you sense that there is a problem you need to contact your nurse immediately. Tell her your symptoms (burning, itching, pressure) or if you have any pain in your bladder. She should be able to do several things to immediately help you cope with the pain caused by the catheter.


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