What if my catheter isn't draining anymore?

From time to time, you might notice that your catheter seems to be draining slowly or not at all. This can happen fairly easily when you have a kink in your catheter or in the tubing of your leg bag. Tight fitting clothing might also be to blame for the lack of urine in your leg bag so make sure to leave the super tight skinny jeans in the cupboard and opt for something more loosely fitting instead.

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What can you do if you notice there's no urine draining from your catheter?

  1. Check if there are any kinks in your catheter or leg bag tubing and remove them if you can find any.

  2. Make sure your drainage bag is sitting lower than your bladder, so urine can drain into it.

  3. Check that your leg bag fixation devices are fitted correctly and don’t cause any obstruction to your catheter drainage.

  4. Check the tubing of your catheter to see if there’s any sediment or similar blocking it.

If none of the above help with your drainage problem and you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms, make sure to get emergency treatment as soon as possible:

  • Abdominal discomfort

  • Feeling the need to pee

  • You’re unable to feel how full your bladder is


What about an intermittent catheter?

Overall, intermittent catheters are much less likely to get blocked as they’re only used once but urine might not drain immediately when the lubricating gel has blocked the drainage eyelets of your catheter. This is nothing to worry about, though, because most of the lubricants used for intermittent catheters are water-based and will dissolve within a couple of minutes. If you find yourself in this situation, try coughing as this might help to start the urine flow.


How to prevent your catheter from getting blocked

  • Stay hydrated: Make sure you drink plenty of fluid throughout the day as this will help prevent minerals from building up in your urine and generally keeps your bladder healthy. It would also be best to steer clear from alcohol, caffeine, or acidic juices.

  • Consume enough fibre: Make sure that your diet features enough fibre to avoid getting constipated. This is important because full bowels can put a lot of pressure on your bladder which, in turn, can cause your catheter to become blocked.

  • Follow a good hygiene protocol: Before touching any part of your catheter, it’s important that you always wash your hands. If you’re using an intermittent catheter, don’t ever open the packaging before you’re ready to actually insert it.

  • Keep an eye on the pH balance of your urine: Any pH between 4.5 and 8 is completely normal, however, anything below 6.7 can lead to a higher risk of encrustation. If you find your pH balance is too low, speak to your doctor about taking citrates or sodium as both of these can help make your urine less alkaline.