Living with a urinary catheter

Practical tips and messages to catheter users

The men and women we talked to offered many different types of advice based on their experiences of living with an indwelling catheter. Everyone is different and what works for one person may not work for someone else. Here are some of their suggestions:
  • Don’t be afraid of having an indwelling catheter. Living with it gets easier with time. Talking to other people and asking them about their experiences can be helpful as well as getting as much information as you need.
  • Get all the information and support you need from health professionals. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and keep asking until you get an answer.
  • Look after your catheter and manage your own situation as best you can. This includes keeping the catheter site clean and using the right hygiene procedures.
  • Drinking lots of water is important – it can help reduce urinary tract infections (UTIs).
  • Have spare catheter equipment at home and when travelling. Even when travelling locally, it helps to have spare drainage bags and other catheter equipment for emergencies. Some people recommended taking your own equipment into hospital as well.
  • Some people recommended using a leg bag strap and, if necessary, taping the catheter to the abdomen. This reduces the likelihood of the catheter being ‘pulled’. Badg suggested alternating the leg that the bag is worn on. The catheter can then lie in a different position each day, minimising soreness at the catheter site.
  • Make sure you have all your catheter equipment ready before having a catheter change. It’s good to have spare equipment for emergencies but make sure the date hasn’t expired on any of the supplies.

Last reviewed June 2015.

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