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“Hello! I am Parthiba. I look after my grandfather who is bedridden and also run my own business from home. I have been using a catheter for my grandfather for a few months. I noticed that he has been falling sick very often since I have started using it. I don’t know what’s the reason is. How can a urinary catheter make somebody ill? Can you help me? I love my grandfather very much and want to see him get better and play with my kids again. I also want to give adult diapers a try, because with catheters my grandfather is always in pain. Is it ideal for him to use?”

Parthiba Vishvesharan reached out to us on our Friends Facebook messages this month. We got back to her and explained everything about urinary catheters and what she might be doing wrong that’s making her grandfather sick.

Now a month later, here we are with a blog that has everything a person might need to know when they or their loved ones are using a urinary catheter. And why making the switch to adult diapers might be the right choice for you. Hope this blog clears up all your doubts!

What is a Urinary Catheter?

Urinating is a basic function that we all must do multiple times in a day, but if you have trouble peeing or can’t completely empty your bladder (the organ that stores urine) for various reasons, then a urinary catheter can help you. A urinary catheter is a thin, flexible tube that helps empty your bladder and get the urine out of your body for you. A word of caution: Urinary catheters are painful most of the time, since they are generally inserted inside the body of the user.

Urinary catheters come in many shapes, sizes and types. In general, there are three main types of catheters:

  • Intermittent catheter: These catheters are made for one-time use. It is inserted through the urethra and into your bladder whenever your bladder feels full, and it drains the bladder for you. You would need multiple intermittent catheters a day.

  • Indwelling catheter: These catheters are like intermittent catheters, but they last longer and are made for days or weeks of use.

  • External catheter: A condom-like catheter for men. Instead of inserting something into your bladder, a sheath like a condom is put around the head of the penis, and a tube attached to it will take the urine from there into a bag.

Now, there are no side effects or risks to external catheters, except for the fact that they may slip or leak. But there are a few things you need to be aware of when it comes to the other two catheters mentioned. Keep reading.

Potential Risks of Urinary Catheterization

The biggest risk of using urinary catheters is that it can allow foreign bacteria to enter your body and cause infections in the urethra (tube carrying urine out of your body), bladder, or kidneys. These types of infections caused by urinary catheters are called ‘catheter associated urinary tract infections’ or CAUTIs.

The symptoms of CAUTI may include:

  • Headache

  • Fever and chills

  • Blood in the urine

  • Cloudy urine due to pus

  • Foul-smelling urine

  • Burning sensation in the genital area or urethra

Other potential complications include:

  • Bladder stones

  • Urethra and bladder injury

  • Damage to the kidney (only with long-term catheter use)

  • Sepsis (body’s extreme response to an infection, in rare cases)

Side Effects of Urinary Catheter

Urinary catheter side effects include:

Bladder Spasms

It is quite common for people with catheters to experience bladder spasms, which may feel like stomach cramps. This occurs when the bladder instinctually tries to push out the catheter.


People using catheters for a few days or weeks might notice mineral deposits from urine in the catheter tube. Though normal, these mineral deposits can block the catheter tube and prevent draining your urine. Blood clots can also block catheter tubes.

Blocked catheters can cause pain, urinary retention – inability to completely empty your bladder, and bladder and kidney infections. So, it’s important that you notify your doctor immediately if your catheter is blocked.

Pain and Discomfort

Long-term use of urinary catheters can cause pain and discomfort. Talk with your doctor, and they can provide advice on how to relieve this pain.

Urethra or Bladder Injuries

Having to change your catheter multiple times leaves a lot of room for accidents and injuries, though you must have expert help for removing and inserting catheters.

Risks Factors of Urinary Catheterization

While not all side effects and complications of urinary catheterization can be avoided, knowing the risk factors related to urinary catheterization may help you reduce your chances of facing them.

Some risk factors related to urinary catheterization:

Lack of Sufficient Fluids

Having to empty, clean, remove and insert your catheter multiple times during the day can make you cut down on your fluid intake. This could lead to dehydration and increase your risk of CAUTI. Urine dark in color is an indicator that you are not getting enough water/fluids into your body.

Fiber Deficiency

Fiber deficiency can lead to constipation and make your experience painful and uncomfortable. Pushing during toileting can also lead to catheter leakage. Eat enough high-fiber foods like fruits, vegetables, and grains to keep your bowel movements regular and healthy.

Catheter Disorganization

Any twists or cramps in the catheter, catheter tube, and disturbance and displacement of the urine bag can lead to blockages and leaks.

Unhygienic Skin and Catheter

Your risk of CAUTI can be reduced significantly by following some basic hygiene steps like washing your hand every time you touch the catheter and keeping the skin around the area the catheter enters clean and disinfected.

In conclusion, a catheter can be a useful equipment to empty your bladder if you face issues doing it on your own. If you start following proper techniques and instructions and get help from a medical professional, you can cut down the risk of injuries and infections.

For people who do not face issues emptying their bladder voluntarily, we would recommend giving adult diapers a try. They are convenient, cause no pain, have little to no risk of causing infections and do not need you to have medical help for use.

You can give Friends Adult Diapers a try. We have more than 20 years of experience in making adult diapers for the Indian body type. We have products to cover you for all your incontinence needs. We make adult diapers in tape style and pant style with multiple variants and sizes, underpads, bed bath towels, and adult insert pads. Our diapers:

  • Are super absorbent to provide dry diaper-wearing experience all day long.

  • Contain SAP (super absorbent polymer) to quickly turn liquid leaks into gel form.

  • Have leak guards to contain side trickles along the thighs.

  • Contain odor-lock technology to lock in foul smells

  • Are made to fit the bodies of both males and females.

  • Free of any harmful chemicals and fragrance.

With Friends, aapko painful urinary catheters se Azadi Mubarak!

If you have any more questions about diapers or urinary catheters, you can always talk with your doctor, or you can also ask us, and we’ll gladly help you.

Frequently Asked Questions about Urinary Catheter

1. Is a urinary catheter harmful?

A urinary catheter is an equipment made to help empty your bladder when you can’t do it yourself. While it has some side effects and can lead to certain complications and pain, they can be avoided with personal hygiene and catheter care.

2. What are the long-term effects of catheterization?

Catheterization can cause pain and discomfort in the long run.

3. Can a catheter cause permanent damage?

No, a catheter doesn’t cause any permanent damage that you can’t recover from.

4. How long can a patient stay with a catheter?

It will depend on the type of catheter you are using. Speak to your doctor and get all your doubts and queries resolved so that you don’t have to worry later.

5. Can you live a normal life with a catheter?

One of the biggest concerns about using catheters is fear of losing the freedom to live a normal life. But carrying out regular activities with your catheter is certainly possible. You should speak to your doctor about when you can resume certain activities, such as working, exercising, and sexual intercourse, with the use of catheters.

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