What You Need to Know About Intermittent Catheters

Catheter leg bags

As we age, more and more of us need to use urinary catheters. This has been a problem that has plagued humanity for thousands of years. Evidence of their use dates back at least 3,500 years. Since then, they have been used to help people when they are unable to naturally empty their bladders. Approximately 14% of people who are between the ages of 65 and 69 have problems with incontinence. This number jumps to 45% for people who are 85 years old or older. The global market for devices to help with urinary incontinence had grown to an annual total of $1.8 billion in 2008. These include intermittent catheters and pads to absorb leakages.

If you have issues with your urinary system that require you to use intermittent catheters, there are some things you need to know to have the best experience with your medical supplies:

  1. Embrace your uniqueness. As you know, every person is different and accordingly, every person has their own unique needs when it comes to intermittent catheterization and intermittent catheter supplies. There are a variety of intermittent catheters that you can choose from. The first kind you try may not work as well as you expect it to and the kind that works for someone you know may not be the right one for you. If the first one does not work for you, do not assume that you cannot be helped by this kind of medical device.
  2. Get the right size. Intermittent catheter. In the same way that intermittent catheters come in different styles, they also come in different sizes. That makes sense because people come in different sizes. Catheters are not just made for adults. They make them for people of all ages and sizes. You should work with your physician and their office to get the right size. Often the size of your catheter is measured by its diameter. This is often referred to as the “French size.” The different “French sizes” are marked by their differently colored funnels. Even when you work with medical professionals to get the right size, adjustments may need to be made. That is not abnormal. Just call your physician’s office and they will be more than happy to work with you to get it right.
  3. If you have to use intermittent catheters, you are going to want to do whatever you can to prevent getting urinary tract infections (UTIs). As important as catheter usage is, one problem that many people encounter when they use intermittent catheters is an increase in the frequency with which they get UTIs. Fortunately, there are things that can be done to make this less of a problem. Here are some steps you can take:
    • Use your intermittent catheters once only. This will help you make sure the catheter you use is sterile.
    • Wash your hands before you change the device.
    • Make sure you use sterile gloves.
    • Make contact with the tube for the catheter as little as you can get away with.
    • If your intermittent catheters come with supplies to help you with their insertion, you should use them.
    • Read all of the instructions that come with your intermittent catheters.
  4. Never reuse your catheters. While this was mentioned already, it is important enough that it bears repeating and some further explanation. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has only approved intermittent catheters to be used one time. This is not to say that FDA agents are going to burst down your door if you use one more than one time but there is a reason they have these rules. There are features of these devices that can encourage bacterial growth so you will be safer and healthier when you follow the FDA guidelines.
  5. Check with your insurance policy to see if they will cover your intermittent catheters. Medicare and other insurance plans often do cover medical devices such as catheters. If you are not sure if your plan will cover them, you should call the company. You can also contact the manufacturer to see if they offer options for people who need help paying for their supplies.

No one likes to talk about needing to use intermittent catheters but many people do. This information should help make the experience better.



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