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What Are the Potential Complications of Urinary Catheters?

According to an article in BMC Urology, indwelling urinary catheters are the leading cause of healthcare-associated urinary tract infections (UTIs). Therefore, it’s important to routinely clean catheters to prevent infections. The symptoms of a UTI may include:

  • fever
  • chills
  • headache
  • cloudy urine (due to pus)
  • burning of the urethra or genital area
  • leaking of urine out of the catheter
  • blood in the urine
  • foul-smelling urine
  • low back pain and achiness

Other complications from using a urinary catheter include:

  • allergic reaction to the material used in the catheter, such as latex
  • bladder stones
  • blood in the urine
  • injury to the urethra
  • kidney damage (with long-term indwelling catheters)
  • infection of the urinary tract, kidney, or blood (septicemia)

How Do You Care for a Urinary Catheter?

Be sure to clean both the catheter and the area where the catheter enters the body with soap and water to reduce the risk of a UTI. You should also drink plenty of water to keep your urine clear or only slightly yellow. This will help prevent infection.

Empty the drainage bag used to collect the urine at least every eight hours and whenever the bag is full. Use a plastic squirt bottle containing a mixture of vinegar and water or bleach and water to clean the drainage bag.

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