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5 Catheter Problems And How To Deal With Them

5 Catheter Problems And How To Deal With Them
Shweta Chaubey

When a patient is put on long-term use of catheters, certain catheter problems may arise. In this article, we will talk about the five catheter problems and their solutions for easy catheterization.  

What are catheters? 

Urinary catheters are thin, flexible tubes inserted into the bladder to let the urine drain out of the body. People with permanent or temporary bladder concerns require a catheter.  

A Foley catheter is inserted via the urethra into the bladder to draw urine. The catheter tubings are attached to a catheter bag, also known as a drainage bag, where the urine is collected.  

5 Catheter problems and how to deal with them 

1. Why does my catheter keep bypassing? 

Catheter bypassing is when the catheter cannot drain the urine, which leads to urine leaking around the catheter. It is one of the most common catheter problems and can have many reasons behind it, such as:  

  • Constipation 
  • Catheter blockage 
  • Improper catheter insertion  

Check for kinks in the catheter bag or tubings if you have a Foley catheter.  

2. How do you know if your catheter is blocked? 

A clogged or blocked catheter is an emergency and thus needs immediate attention. Catheter blockage occurs when a physical barrier prevents the proper flow of fluids through the catheter. 

There can be many reasons for a catheter blockage, for instance -  

  • Accumulation of blood clots, tissue fragments, lubricating gel, or medications can lead to blockage in the catheter.  
  • Crystallization within the catheter due to medications can reduce the inner diameter of the catheter and prevent urine from flowing through it.  
  • Improper insertion can cause the catheters to bend or kink, leading to catheter blockage.  
  • Bacterial buildup can also cause catheter tubings to get clogged.  
  • Incorrect positioning of the catheter or leg bag can also contribute to blockage in the catheter.  

To ensure the catheter is not clogged, flush the catheter properly and place the drainage bag below the bladder when sitting, standing, or lying.  

How to flush the catheter? 

Flushing the catheter with saline solution helps the debris and bacterial buildup to move down the tubing and clear the catheter. Flushing the catheter periodically helps resolve many catheter problems. 

What do you need? 

A catheter irrigation kit, which includes -  


  1. Start by washing your hands with soap and water. 
  2. Dry them and put on disposable gloves. 
  3. Open the catheter securement device and remove the tubings.  
  4. Place the drape sheet under the connection port between the catheter tubing and the bag. Do not jerk or pull the tubings.  
  5. Pour the normal saline irrigation solution into the collection container and draw 60 ml solution into the catheter-tipped syringe. Always use a room-temperature saline solution to rinse the bladder.  
  6. Use an alcohol swab to clean the tubings and the connection port. 
  7. Disconnect the catheter tubes from the bag tubings. Do not touch the ends of the catheter tube, drain bag, or syringe tip to prevent contamination.  
  8. Insert the catheter plug into the end of the drainage bag tubing and then move it to the side. 
  9. Insert the syringe tip into the catheter tubing and gently push the solution into the bladder. To prevent any complications, avoid forcing fluid into the catheter tubing. If you feel resistance, contact your doctor or nurse.  
  10. Remove the syringe and let the solution flow back out of the bladder into the drainage tray. 
  11. Once the solution drains, wipe the ends of the catheter tube with a fresh alcohol pad. 
  12. Let the alcohol dry. 
  13. Remove the catheter plug from the bag tubing and reconnect the catheter tube to the bag tubings. 
  14. Reattach the catheter tube to the thigh of the patient using the catheter securement device. 
  15. Discard the used supplies and throw the gloves away. 
  16. Remove and throw away gloves. 
  17. Wash your hands with soap and water.  

Contact your doctor immediately if the patient has a full bladder or has stomach cramps.  

3. What to do if a catheter comes out? 

Catheter dislodgement or the accidental pulling out of a catheter is a common catheter problem that can cause injury and perturb the treatment plan. Contact your doctor or nurse if the catheter dislodges.  

One of the most common reasons for this catheter problem is improperly securing the catheter tubings. To avoid such instances, properly secure the catheter as your doctor prescribes and be careful when moving or changing positions. 

4. How do you treat an infected catheter? 

Catheter-associated urinary tract infection is caused due to bacterial or fungal buildup in the catheter due to poor catheter care. The first course of action involves replacing the infected catheter with a new one.  

Common symptoms may be -  

  • Hematuria 
  • Cloudy urine 
  • Frequent urination 
  • Strong or foul-smelling urine 
  • Bladder spasms or pain in the abdomen 

Follow proper catheter care. Wash your hands with soap and water before and after handling the catheter, sterilize the insertion site, and change drainage bags and catheters often. 

If you notice any of the abovementioned signs or have a fever or intense cramping, seek medical attention immediately. Your doctor will prescribe catheter change and antibiotics.  

5. How to relieve bladder spasms with a catheter? 

Bladder spasms with catheters can affect the quality of life of the patient and can cause further complications. According to the National Institutes of Health, Catheter-induced bladder irritation, also known as catheter cramp, can be strong enough to push on the inflated balloon of the catheter and cause urethral erosion.  

If you experience bladder spasms with a catheter, consult your doctor. They will help you with catheter pain relief. To minimize the risk of catheter-induced bladder irritation and discomfort-  

  • Keep the insertion site clean and dry.  
  • Use mild soap and water to clean the catheter site, and pat dry it gently.  
  • Do not use harsh chemicals or products around the insertion site. 

More on Catheter Problems 

1. Is it normal for urine to leak around a catheter? 

A leaking catheter may indicate a bigger catheter problem, like bladder spasms or blockage. Get medical advice as soon as you can to avoid further complications. 

2. What are the aftereffects of having a catheter removed? 

After catheter removal, you might feel some discomfort or pain while urinating. You may have to urinate more often in the first 48 hours after the removal. Seek immediate medical help if you notice bloating in your abdomen or blood in your urine. 

3. Should a catheter tube be full of urine? 

Emptying your catheter bag when it is half to three-quarters full helps avoid leakage. To avoid infections, change the leg bags and valves every seven days. 

Catheter kits are essential medical supplies; however, they can cause catheter problems if not managed properly. Many issues are easily resolved with proper catheter care and antibiotics. Some may need immediate medical attention. 

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HPFY Shweta Chaubey

Shweta Chaubey

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Shweta Chaubey, has been a Health Products For You contributor since 2021. An advocate-turned-writer, her desire to create meaningful and positive content has brought her to HPFY and what better than writing ...

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