Catheters often come in single use and reusable varieties. However, reusing a catheter can come with some risks, even if the catheter is a reusable one. Here's what you need to understand about reusing catheters.
Why You Should Never Reuse a Disposable Catheter
You should never reuse a single use catheter. You may find some guides for home sterilization practices, but disposable catheters are not designed for such things. In fact, many of them have designs that specifically confound home sterilization.
Disposable catheters will have a coating that many sterilization processes cannot fully penetrate. In this case, that goes for medical sterilization, which is beyond what most people can do when at home.
Why Even Reusable Catheters Can Pose a Danger
Reusable catheters lack the special coatings and designs of their disposable counterparts. Because of that, you can definitely clean and sterilize them successfully. The problems with these types of catheters have a lot to do with how effectively you clean them. If you don't clean and sterilize them thoroughly, you run the risk of giving yourself a urinary tract infection.
Why You Shouldn't Reuse Catheters
One of the main dangers of reusing a catheter is developing a UTI. A urinary tract infection can occur if even a tiny amount of bacteria remains on the catheter when inserted. That bacteria will get into the urethra and bladder. While there, it will grow into a full infection.
Cleaning and sterilizing a catheter aims to remove bacteria. Unfortunately, most methods people use at home do not reliably eliminate all bacteria. Beyond that, most people simply won't perform the cleaning and sterilization process properly at home. Or, they may not even know that these processes are necessary.
How You Can Make Catheter Usage Safe
To avoid potential problems, you can do several things.
- Follow all directions for your catheter explicitly
- Use disposable catheters
- Purchase your catheters from a professional urological device supplier like http://www.medirents.net
- Wash your hands before and after catheter use
- Do not let your catheters touch any surface
If you still choose reusable catheters, all the same rules still apply. You should show extra care to make sure your reusable catheter stays as clean and uncontaminated as you possibly can.
Your healthcare provider can help you figure out if a reusable catheter is absolutely necessary or not. Check your insurance company, as they may want you to use a reusable catheter as well.