What is a Urinary Catheter?
A urinary catheter is a flexible tube used to drain urine from the bladder. Most catheters transfer urine to a drainage bag that can be emptied regularly but some can be inserted a few times a day (self-catheterisation) to empty urine straight into the toilet.
Why might you need to use a catheter?
You may need to use a urinary catheter if you struggle to control when you urinate (leaking through incontinence) or if you are unable to empty your bladder due to urinary retention. Urinary catheterisation may be necessary for the any of the following reasons:
- Bladder stones, blood clots or a narrowed urethra (often due to build-up of scar tissue)
- Spinal injury or damage to nerves that control the bladder
- Taking medication that impairs bladder function
- Surgery (prostate gland/hysterectomy/hip)
- Conditions such as dementia/delirium that affect memory/perception
- Indwelling catheters (these are inserted into the body to drain urine from the bladder):
- Urethral catheters - are inserted into the urethra (the tube that carries urine from the bladder to outside the body):
- Intermittent, inserted a few times a day
- Foley catheters use a balloon that is inflated once in situ in the bladder to hold the catheter in place.
- Suprapubic catheter: this is used in the case of urethral damage or blockage. The catheter is inserted through a hole in the abdomen until it reaches the bladder
- External catheters (non-invasive, placed outside the body). Can be an alternative to pads for incontinence:
- Condom catheter
- Male / Female urinary pouches
Self Catheterisation Risks:
- Urinary Tract Infection (bacteria can enter through insertion of the catheter or through stagnant urine through not being able to fully empty the bladder). The infection can be fungal or bacterial
- Injury to urethra (through insertion)
- Development of bladder stones
- Damage to kidney with long-term catheters
- Allergies to materials in catheter (e.g. latex)
- Kidney Infection
- Infection of the blood (septicaemia)
It is vital to seek medical attention in the case of infection/allergy as septicaemia is life-threatening. Your doctor may require a blood or urine samples to test for infection (remove the catheter and obtain a midstream sample, or obtain from needleless site).
Symptoms of Urinary Tract Infection (UTI):
- Burning/pain when passing water, pain in the groin/abdomen, cloudy/malodorous urine, and urinary urgency.
Symptoms of Kidney Infection. Same as with UTI but may include the added symptoms:
- Chills and high temperature
- Loss of appetite
- Feeling weak
Symptoms of Septicaemia
- Fast heartbeat and breathing
- High temperature
In the case of kidney infection/septicaemia, it is vital to seek urgent medical care.
How to reduce Catheter risks
- Proper catheter care (hygiene standards are essential - aseptic technique, change catheter as per manufacturer’s instructions, drainage bag off floor but at lower height from bladder)
- Maintain good bladder health and treat E-Coli-related UTI’s by taking Waterfall D-Mannose . D-Mannose is an all-natural product with no known side effects. It is available in tablet or powder form and can be taken as a preventative in a maintenance dose or during a UTI episode to relieve symptoms. D-Mannose attaches to E-Coli bacteria (the most common cause of UTI) and flushes it out of your urinary system.
- Only use the catheter for as long as is needed (e.g. after surgery, a catheter may only be needed for a brief time).
Preventing E.coli infections related to catheterisation
The dose level of Waterfall D-Mannose for catheterised/catheterising people, men or women, generally needs to be higher than the dose level for people who do not catheterise. The actual amount you need to take will be found best by trial and error. Best to start on higher dose levels and gradually reduce the dose to the point where you are still keeping infections at bay. If you feel an infection starting, it is an indication that you are not taking enough to cope with the level of bacteria present in the urine. If you stay symptom free for a period of time when you would have expected an infection, it is usually safe to reduce the dose frequency or level, and perhaps just take more around the time of changing the catheter.