A very basic piece of medical equipment, the catheter tube connects your bladder with a urine collection bag as part of a closed drainage system designed to keep you healthy and comfortable when going to the restroom on your own is not possible. Though simple, the catheter tube has a very important job to do. Here is some basic information about caring for this tube. Be sure to speak with your care provider if you have unanswered questions after reading it.
Why a Closed Drainage System is Necessary
Your internal organs, including the inside of your bladder, are sterile. As you may already know from reading the latest health news, bladder infections happen when germs are introduced to the bladder. The closed drainage system is designed to prevent this from occurring. For this reason, it is very important to ensure that your catheter stays connected to the urine collection bag unless the bag is being changed.
Preventing Catheter Tube Based Infections
Unfortunately, catheter based infections can lead to serious illness or premature death. For this reason, it is important to take a few simple steps to prevent infections.
First, be sure to wash your hands with soap and water both before and after touching your catheter tube or your urine collection bag. If you must care for your own catheter or change your drainage bag, wear clean medical gloves to do so, and be sure to wear a new pair each time. Wash your hands before handling the gloves, and wash them again after removing them. Remember to let gravity do its work; keep the urine collection bag below waist level. Make sure it does not touch the floor.
Second, be sure you drink plenty of liquids to keep your bladder functioning properly, and to flush out any microorganisms that may have made their way up the catheter tube. Most adults need to drink between 9 and 13 cups of liquid per day, including water and other beverages. Ask your doctor which beverages are best for you; some juices, for example, can cause adverse reactions when paired with certain medications
Third, ask your care provider to show you how to prevent the catheter tube from kinking, both for your comfort and to prevent problems. Usually, it can be securely taped or strapped to your leg.
Fourth, follow the catheter care instructions you were given by your health care provider. These instructions should include information about how to keep the catheter site clean for your health and comfort.
Finally, be sure to have your catheter, catheter tubing, and urine collection bag changed regularly. The longer you wear the same equipment, the greater your risk for infection.
Be sure to contact your caregiver immediately if you see a layer of crystals inside your catheter tubing, or if you notice blood inside your urine collection bag. If you have a fever, or if you have pain in your back, hip, lower abdomen, or pelvis, or if you notice that your urine has changed color or if other urinary changes occur, you could have an infection or other problem. Seek help immediately if these or other symptoms occur.