The process of adjusting to life with intermittent catheter use can be a major lifestyle adjustment for any patient, as well as their loved ones and caretakers, but many patients who utilize intermittent catheters live their lives. Because of this fact, the process of catheterizing in a public restroom is a very important one to master. Though it can be a source of anxiety for patients, with proper preparation and education, catheterizing in public restrooms can be only marginally more difficult than doing so in the comfort of your own home.
There are two main issues that are the primary barriers to catheterizing in a public restroom. The first is having all the necessary supplies on hand, and the second is creating a sterile environment to maintain safe hygiene.
Bring Catheter Supplies
Catheters, particularly male catheters, can consume a good deal of space. Many are too long to easily fit in a pocket or even a normal sized purse. Coupled with any sterilization and lubrication supplies, it can be cumbersome to carry all the necessary supplies to properly catheterize in a public restroom. This can lead to patients skipping catheterization and trying to hold out until they get home, which can lead to bladder damage and other serious complications. Patients should always catheterize at the same frequency as their physician recommends.
Many men find that carrying catheters and supplies in a briefcase can be helpful, as well as providing a hard surface on which to place the supplies during catheterization. For women, folding catheters into a U-shape can help them accommodate varying sizes of purses. Additionally, there are compact catheters available and intended for discretion and space, depending on your insurance and medical qualifications, such as the Coloplast Speedicath.
Sterility and Hygiene
Proper hygiene and a sterile environment will protect you from complications such as urinary tract infections. Self-catheterization can introduce bacteria directly into your body if you’re not careful.
Obviously, public restrooms are much less hygienic than the restroom in your home. The first line of defense is frequent, thorough handwashing. After washing hands, patients should make their way to a stall or private area in order to actually catheterize. Pushing and pulling with your elbow or foot can help preserve the sanitation of your hands.
A drape or paper towel can provide a sanitary surface for catheter supplies. Many catheter systems can include these supplies or convenient alternatives. For example, Hollister catheters have an adhesive dot on the side of the catheter, enabling patients to stick the outer packaging of the catheter to any surface, while preserving the sanitation of the catheter itself. Gloves, if available, can be a great second line of defense for patients catheterizing in public restrooms. A catheter with a grip or guide strip allows you to avoid touching the catheter tube itself.
If patients prepare properly and take a heightened degree of caution, catheterizing in public restrooms does not need to be a source of anxiety. With advances in medical technology and a trusted supplier on your side, you can utilize a catheterization program without sacrificing any quality of life. With an experienced supplier like Aeroflow Healthcare on your side, you never have to worry about dealing with insurance, learning about supplies, or picking up your supplies in a store. Our trained catheter representatives can help you obtain both the perfect catheter and supplies for your specific medical needs.