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Managing Your Foley Catheter: Practical Advice for Comfort and Confidence

If you’re navigating life with a Foley catheter — whether it’s for a few weeks or permanently, it’s essential that you understand the basics of catheter care for maintaining your health and comfort.

Urologic diseases and conditions caused by prostate issues, injuries and surgery often lead to catheter use. A Foley catheter, a tube inserted into your bladder to aid in urine elimination, may seem intimidating at first. But most people adapt to life with a Foley quickly. Using straightforward care techniques, you can ensure effective and trouble-free use.

Here’s a guide to help demystify the urinary catheter care process and provide peace of mind.

How To Maintain Your Catheter

  • Keep it clean and simple: Achieving sterility at home isn’t necessary or practical. Your goal is to keep the catheter and surrounding area visibly clean, ensuring they’re free from dirt and debris that you can see.
  • Keep the collection bag below the bladder: Gravity plays a key role in urine drainage. The urine collection bag should always be positioned below your bladder. This keeps urine draining the way it should and your bladder emptied. If your Foley catheter is in the wrong position, it can obstruct the flow of urine.
  • Empty the collection bag regularly: It’s important to prevent the collection bag from becoming overly full. A full bag can lead to urine backflow into the bladder, increasing the risk of infection. Regularly monitor and empty the bag to maintain a healthy flow.
  • Ensure uninterrupted flow: Continuous urine flow into the collection bag means that your catheter is working properly. Interruptions in urine flow may signal a blockage.
  • Avoid Catheter Tension: The catheter should be securely placed to avoid undue tension or tugging on the bladder, which can be uncomfortable. Tension can also injure your bladder. So, it’s important to secure the catheter in a way that allows for mobility without pulling or tugging.

How To Stay Comfortable

  • Avoid tightness and irritation: Initial discomfort with a catheter is common but can be easily avoided. Check that the catheter is not on tension and keep the entry point clean and lubricated. This can help prevent irritation and discomfort.
  • Manage bladder spasms: You may experience bladder spasms, which create a strong and sudden urge to urinate or pelvic/genital pain. Manage spasms by emptying your bladder and avoiding constipation. Your doctor can help you manage constipation through diet, lifestyle changes and medication if necessary.
  • Identify infection symptoms: While the presence of some bacteria in the bladder is normal with catheter use, signs of infection such as fever, pain or blood in the urine are a signal to contact your healthcare team immediately.

Budget Friendly Cleaning

  • Bag Cleaning and Reuse: You don’t need to replace your urine collection bag over and over. Save money and do your part to reduce environmental waste by cleaning the bag with a diluted bleach solution. Just clean it, rinse it and reuse it.

As healthcare continues to progress, urinary catheters are still one of the only options to relieve urine retention if you have a condition that makes it difficult or impossible to pee. But you can continue to enjoy your quality of life with a Foley catheter by mastering catheter care.

Keep these guidelines handy to manage your Foley catheter and avoid complications, and keep the conversation open with your healthcare team.

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