Has Your Doctor Recommended Catheter Insertion? How to Clean and Care for Your Supplies

Catheter leg bags

Has your doctor prescribed you a catheter? If so, you’re in good company: by the age of 85, almost half of all Americans have experienced some incontinence. Whether you are experiencing urinary leakage or failure to drain fully, you should know that millions of people use catheterization trays to change their own catheters at home. Worldwide, the market for intermittent catheters and for other urological supplies is more than $1.5 billion every single year.

Catheters have actually been used for close to 3,500 years: Benjamin Franklin famously invented a catheter for his brother’s kidney stones several hundred years ago, and the ancient Romans had two types for male and female patients. There are several varieties of catheters available depending upon the patient’s condition. If you have a leg bag, it can actually be changed at home. Just wait until it is about half full — or change it twice a day or more on a set schedule — and empty it. Before you go to sleep, take off the leg bag and put on your drainage bag, rinsing out the leg bag with a mixture of vinegar and water. Just soak the leg bag for about half an hour in tepid water and then hang it somewhere clean so it can dry adequately.

Catheterization trays can help people with urinary incontinence improve their quality of life. About one-quarter of incontinence-related hospitalizations do involve the insertion of a Foley catheter, which is basically an internal — or in-dwelling — catheter that helps patients fully empty their bladders. Catheters can be used for patients with kidney disease, spinal injuries, multiple sclerosis, and a wide range of physical conditions. Some catheterization trays include everything but the catheter itself, allowing patients an easy and sterile insertion. It’s important to connect with your physician before ordering home catheterization trays.

Millions of Americans suffer from kidney disease, and the numbers continue to climb: more than 20 million people suffer from some form of chronic kidney disease. That amounts to more than one in every 10 American adults, and the statistics show that the rate of chronic kidney disease has doubled in the last decade among seniors. If your doctor recommends that you have a catheter inserted, it is extremely important to keep it clean and sterile at all times: nobody should have to deal with an infected catheter. With the proper cleaning and sterilization procedures, you can rely upon your catheter to improve your quality of life.

People who use catheters regularly may be a bit more prone to urinary tract infections. You may want to have a nurse come to your home the first few times you change your catheter, just to help you insert it and to answer any questions you may have about your new catheter system. While the rate of catheter use is approximately one in every eight seniors under the age of 85, the rate does spike for older seniors: it’s worth the trouble to get medical instruction about how to properly use catheters and catheterization trays. People who are unable to insert their own catheters will want to contract with a nurse for ongoing care; it’s very important to maintain sterilization and proper care of all your catheterization supplies.

Your continued health depends so much upon being willing to try new solutions to ongoing problems, and medical professionals are more than happy to explain the range of catheterization solutions to you. There is also ample written material available about catheters, and in general, taking the time to talk to your doctor and nurses about treatment options is an excellent idea. There is nothing wrong with getting older, and while we may be annoyed or worried at loss of urinary continence, it is a simple and easily-treatable part of our lives as senior citizens.

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