Catheters are an essential tool for people who need extra help going to the bathroom, whether from incontinence, surgery, or other means. Catheters, however, come in many different forms, and each require different methods of use and care.

External Catheters

External catheters are designed to sheathe the penis, and then direct urine or discharge through a smaller tube to a drainage bag. Some external catheters are reusable, but most are disposable. All external catheters must be replaced every 24 to 48 hours to prevent infection. These devices most often look like condoms, and users put them on in a similar manner.

Intermittent Catheters

Intermittent catheters must be inserted several times a day to drain urine, as they cannot sit in the urinary tract for too long. These catheters need to be inserted by either the user or a medical professional, and they are most often the ones doctors use post-surgery. Intermittent catheters are also commonly used to drain urine from other areas of the body when the user has a stoma. These catheters are typically single-use, and must be disposed of once the process is complete. While intermittent catheters are a good temporary option, frequent use and improper hygiene may lead to urinary tract infections. As with all catheters, proper sterilization before and after inserting a catheter is vital.

Foley Catheters

Foley catheters, better known as indwelling catheters, can stay in the urinary tract for much longer than an intermittent catheter can. These catheters are most often used for people who need long-term incontinence solutions, are bedbound, or need to be monitored frequently.

Foley catheters can be inserted by either the user or a medical professional, and the catheter itself must be left inside the bladder to work effectively. To keep the catheter inside the bladder, a tiny balloon filled with sterile water sits at the end of the tube. Both Foley catheters and external catheters require a drainage bag to collect urine.

Suctioning Catheters

The final type of catheter we’ll cover is a bit different from the others on this list. Suction catheters, unlike the others mentioned, are used to drain fluids from other parts of the body and not the bladder. Most people can find suction catheters at the dentists’ office, since they are used to drain saliva from the mouth during dental procedures. Suction catheters, however, are most often attributed to clearing fluids from a tracheostomy tube. Fluids that build up in the tracheostomy tube can cause infection or make breathing difficult, so frequent cleaning and sometimes suctioning is necessary to keep patients healthy.

To browse catheters, catheter accessories, and other urinary products, visit Medical Supply Depot.

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