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Urinary catheters may cause infection, anxiety

Urinary catheters may cause infection, anxiety

While urinary catheters can help people urinate better or empty the bladder, they bring with them several complications like urinary tract infections

Urinary catheters may cause infection, anxiety

The usage of urinary catheters varies from case to case. Used to help people urinate better or empty the bladder, this tube comes with several complications as much as it is helpful in treating urinary health conditions in an individual.

Trained medical professionals insert this hollow tube which helps empty the bladder and collect the urine in a drainage bag.

“The length of the urethra is longer in males and shorter in females. Hence, the insertion of a catheter is easier in females,” says Dr Mohammed Shahid Ali, consultant, urology, andrology, robotic surgery and renal transplantation, at Manipal Hospitals, Bengaluru.


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Why are catheters used?

“When urine is not eliminated and accumulates in the bladder as a result of any health condition such as kidney stone or urinary incontinence, it leads to an increased pressure in the kidneys causing the failure of kidneys,” said, Dr Moideen Nafseer, consultant urologist and director of Mangala Kidney Foundation, Mangaluru.

Risk factors of using catheters

A review paper published in the Journal of Clinical Nursing concludes that removing the catheter early can reduce the occurrence of urinary tract infections (UTIs).

“Catheter is made of either latex or silicon. The latex catheter can be used for three weeks, while the silicon catheter can be used for six weeks. Using it for a longer duration leads to infections. Common complications that occur during the use of catheter are blood in urine and UTI infections due to the prolonged use of the catheter,” Dr Ali says.

Chronic complications

Some complications arise because of using catheters such as:

  • Stone formation in the urinary tract
  • Urethral injury due to needle insertion
  • Septicemia – a bacterial infection in the blood, also called sepsis.
  • Blockage or slippage of the catheter which can lead to severe abdominal pain and blocks the passing of urine through the catheter.

Preventing complications

Taking a few precautions while using the catheter is the first step to avoid any complications.

  • Sterilising reusable catheters and cleaning the area of insertion thoroughly
  • Drinking water so that urine output is not concentrated
  • Clearing the drainage bag when it is full and sterilising it before the next use
  • Taking a bath and walks while using the catheter.

Psychological impact while using a catheter

Dr Ali says that living with a catheter is difficult as it is not natural for the body. People who need to wear a catheter may express anxiety initially. They may feel embarrassed and try to retrieve from their social life. Such individuals need emotional acceptance, he adds.


Using a catheter is inevitable to help treat some urinary health conditions like kidney stones and bladder cancer. But prolonged use of catheters can also invite risk factors like bacterial infections or urinary tract infections. Clean usage and sterilisation of the tubes could prevent these problems. Individuals must learn to deal with their anxiety and accept the process emotionally to lead a healthy and happy life.

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