Urine bags are used to collect urine by attaching it to a catheter. You can choose between different styles to suit your needs, such as disposable and reusable.
Catheter leg bags can often be a life-saver for those with urinary incontinence. In general, leg bags allow freedom of movement and provide dignity. They can also be hidden under clothing and promote independence.
However, there is a certain lack of research and information on catheter leg bag use. Many people have problems with managing the leg bag that can effect it's efficiency.
Read about how these common problems can be solved:
- The Leg Bag Has Caused Skin Damage
If you notice skin damage, you may have attached the leg bag straps too tight or too loosely. When the leg bag straps are tightly attached, they can restrict lymphatic flow, which increases the risk of vein and skin problems. Re-evaluate how tightly or loosely you are attaching the bag, and if needed, go to a professional for advice on this. Alternatively, you can switch the leg bag from one leg to the other each day, meaning it will not irritate the same spot all the time. If you have known poor circulation and are using a leg bag, you should go to a Doctor and find an alternative product. You may be able to use a leg bag sleeve rather than straps.
- I Have Unwanted Odour
Unwanted odour is a popular complaint amongst people with a catheter leg bag. To reduce the odour, wash your hands with soap and water. You should also disconnect the bag from the catheter tubing. Next, drain any remaining urine from the disconnected bag. You should then pour some warm soapy water into the bag. Open the drainage valve to drain the soap, and fill the bag with vinegar and water.
- The Leg Bag Flips Over and Kinks the Tubing
This problem can occur if the straps are not attached to the calf or thigh using the provided straps. Ensure they are attached to the correct place and are securely attached. If you have the habit of moving your leg bag during use, try and make a conscious effort not to.
- My Leg Hurts as a Result of the Leg Bag
Muscle pain can often occur as a result of pulling or tugging on the bag. It is also likely that you are wearing the leg bag in the wrong position. Visiting a Nurse can solve this, as they can tell you whether you are wearing the bag the right way. They can also show you how to connect your overnight bag, as this is a common mistake.
I Don’t Know Where to Store my Bag
Store your leg bag in a storing container in the bathroom when it is not in use. This should also include straps and caps. To ensure good hygiene standards, place tissue or a paper towel in the bottom of the container. Ensure you change this sheet daily for cleanliness.
- There is No Urine Draining
This problem is common, and often occurs due to incorrect insertion of the catheter. Females should ensure that they haven't inserted the catheter into the vagina by mistake. Males on the other hand should ensure the catheter is inserted far enough the urethra. Experts recommend that there should be around 10cm of catheter visible.
This problem can also occur due to the lubricating gel blocking the drainage holes on the catheter. If you experience this problem and have discomfort, visit an emergency department close to you.
- The Catheter has Fallen Out
Your catheter is kept in place by a balloon that is inflated with sterile water after the catheter is inserted. It is possible that the balloon can become faulty and deflate, causing the catheter to fall out. If this occurs, contact a Doctor immediately.
- You have Severe Stomach Pains
Stomach ache can be serious, and can indicate that the catheter is irritating the bladder. If you have stomach pains while wearing a catheter, visit your Doctor for advice. They can give you tips for preventing this and on some occasions will provide you with medication.
If you notice any blood in the urine, please contact a Doctor immediately. This is not a normal side effect or common problem, and requires urgent attention.
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Common Questions about Catheter Leg Bag Usage
- Which Leg Bag is Suitable for Me?
Where you need to wear your bag determines the required length of your inlet tube. You can use a short tube for use on the thigh, long tube for the lower leg and an adjustable tube for extra length.
- How Often Should You Change the Leg Bag?
It is generally recommended that you should change the catheter bag every 5-7 days. You should bear in mind, however, that if your leg bag becomes disconnected from the catheter, you should buy a new bag immediately.
How Often Should I Empty the Leg Bag?
The emptying frequency is at least twice a day. You need to pay attention to when your leg bag is getting full. Specialists recommend that you empty the bag when it is half-full to prevent any risk of leakage or damage to the bag.
- Can Leg Bags be Worn with a Skirt or Shorts?
Contrary to believe, it is possible to find a bag that can be worn with shorts or a skirt. Even if you are a frequent swimmer, there are different available to you. You can purchase a catheter valve which fits into the end of your catheter. This can be a suitable alternative for many.
- Can I Use a Leg Bag During the Night?
Leg bags are not designed to be used when you are asleep, as urine will not properly drain into the leg bag. You can invest in a catheter night bag, which is designed to hold a normal amount of urine.
Tips for Living with a Catheter
- Drink lots of fluids. This helps prevent irritation and maintain a healthy bladder.
- Avoid using oil based creams or talcum powder around the catheter.
- Ensure your day and night bags stay below the level of the bladder. This prevents any urine backflow.
- Eat plenty of fiber to avoid constipation. Constipation can often interrupt the performance of the catheter.
- Drink cranberry juice. This is known to be effective in reducing the risk of infection and maintaining bladder health. You should do this gradually and in small doses.