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Are Hydrophilic Catheters Easier to Insert and Less Painful?

Are Hydrophilic Catheters Easier to Insert and Less Painful?

Image showing hydrophilic catheters

When men, women, or children experience an event or a diagnoses that requires urinary catheterization, it’s important that they have options that best support their lifestyle and independent living needs. This is where hydrophilic catheters can help.

But, what are hydrophilic catheters exactly. And, why would urinary catheter users and caregivers choose this catheter option over others? Below, we’ll identify what hydrophilic catheters are, why they may be less painful and easier to use, and what their unique benefits can be.

What Are Urinary Catheters and Why Are They Used?

First, let’s explore what urinary catheters are in general. Urinary catheters are used to resolve three primary physician diagnoses: urinary retention, urinary incontinence, and situations where urinating is unable to be controlled autonomously. Catheters are hollow flexible tubes made out of silicone, rubber, or plastic that are used to connect a patient’s bladder to a drainage bag. There are generally three main types of urinary catheters that perform this drainage function:

External Catheters: Non-invasive catheters used outside of the urethra for bladder drainage.

Intermittent Catheters: Single use catheters which are inserted into the bladder through the urethra to drain urine.

Indwelling Catheters: Indwelling catheters, or Foley catheters, are placed in a person’s bladder by a healthcare professional and left there to drain the bladder as needed.

What Are Hydrophilic Catheters?

Hydrophilic catheters are a form of intermittent catheters that are pre-lubricated. This can be done in one of two ways: 

  • Pre-lubricated: Some hydrophilic catheters come in a sealed package and already lubricated with a water-based lubricating jelly.
  • Foil packet lubrication: For some hydrophilic catheters, there is an included foil packet inside the individual pouch. When this pouch is squeezed, it will release a lubricating solution to coat the catheter.
Image of women with glasses, smiling, wearing blue shirt and sweater. Hydrophilic catheters can make it easier to lead a more confident and healthy cathing lifestyle.

The Benefits of Hydrophilic Catheters

You may be wondering, what are the specific benefits of hydrophilic catheters? There are three main benefits that lead to many catheter patients choosing this type of catheter for their needs:

  • Lessened Urethral Injuries: Lack of proper lubrication is a common method for injury while catheterizing. When you insert a catheter into your urethra, too much friction can occur if the catheter is not properly lubricated; this can lead to tears and serious irritation. With hydrophilic catheters, patients can use catheters that are already properly lubricated, thus reducing their chances for injury.
  • Improved Hygiene: Hydrophilic catheters are already pre-lubricated, which reduces the need for directly touching the catheter as much. This reduction in touching of the catheter can help reduce the introduction of bacteria, thus reducing infection probability.
  • More Convenience: Hydrophilic catheters introduce an aspect of enhanced convenience. Because the catheters don’t require outside lubrication, cathing on-the-go is much easier for users, this supporting more independent and active lifestyles.

Who Are the Best Candidates for Hydrophilic Catheters?

Hydrophilic catheters are definitely a more convenient catheter option, but they may not be the best option for every catheter patient. The best candidates for hydrophilic catheter use tend to be:

  • Those Who Have Increased Sensitivity: Catheter users who experience pain or discomfort frequently while cathing may have a better experience after switching to pre-coated hydrophilic catheters.
  • Those Prone to Injury: For patients who are prone to chaffing or tearing while cathing, this type of catheter style can offer a better lubricated option that promotes more comfortable cathing.
  • Those Seeking Faster Cathing Options: Many catheter users still lead full, busy, and healthy lifestyles. By introducing hydrophilic catheters, users can more easily catheterize wherever they are safely without having to deal with extra lubricant products. 
  • Those Prone to Infection: Because hydrophilic catheters require less hand touching, there is a reduction in bacteria that can be introduced. This helps to prevent infections, such as UTIs.
If you feel that you could benefit from the use of hydrophilic catheters, as opposed to standard intermittent catheters, discuss your options with your physician or urologist.

Which catheter is right for you. Complete the form below today.

Potential Drawbacks to Using Hydrophilic Catheters

While hydrophilic catheters tend to be easier to use than other intermittent catheter options, they still can lead to the same potential complications. These complications can include:

  • Urethritis
  • UTIs
  • Urethral trauma
  • Fistulas
  • Bladder cancer
  • Bladder stones
  • Allergies
  • Blood in urine
  • Urethral trauma or tearing
To prevent complications and serious problems, it’s essential that you maintain regular communication with your healthcare team and notify your doctor if you experience any of the following issues:
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Pain
  • Skin sores or lesions around the catheter
  • Bleeding around or inside the catheter
  • Recurring bladder spasms
  • Sediment inside the catheter bag
  • Urethral swelling
  • Strong smelling, thick, or cloudy urine
  • Too little urine output
  • Urine leakage around the site of the catheter

Using Urinary Catheters

Your physician or healthcare professional will help train you on using hydrophilic catheters and determine the best and easiest way for you to place them yourself. It’s important that you always consult with your healthcare professional first when using a new medical device such as a catheter, as complications can occur with improper use.

We also recommend the following tips for best practice when catheterizing:

  1. Always cleanse your catheter site area prior to insertion and following removal and draining to reduce bacterial infections.
  2. Wash hands thoroughly prior to insertion and following completion to reduce infection.
  3. Never force a catheter if you feel resistance as this can cause serious pain or damage. Seek counsel from your healthcare provider
  4. Always ensure your catheter is lubricated properly to prevent tearing, chafing, and discomfort.
Image of man on phone, with coffee, looking out window.

Use Active Life Medical for All Your Hydrophilic Catheter Needs

Have you recently been prescribed hydrophilic catheters by your doctor? Active Life Medical can help. We can help coordinate paperwork with your physician, help with billing your supplies to your insurance, and deliver your catheter supplies direct to your doorstep. We also work with all the well-known brands, meaning you can get the catheter supply you want and are most comfortable with from the brand names that you trust. Give us a call at 800-319-2336 today.

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