5 Myths About Living With a Catheter

5 Myths About Living With a Catheter

Health and Fitness August 15, 2016

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Urinary drain bags have been used for thousands of years, making it one of the oldest modern concepts in medical supplies. If your doctor has told you you will need to start living with a catheter leg bag extension, you probably have some ideas about what it will be like. Here are some common myths that you may have heard:

  1. Catheters are painful. It may cause you some brief discomfort at first, but it should not hurt. Once you begin getting used to the feeling of the tubes you should not be in any pain.
  2. Catheters are made for old people. While urinary incontinence becomes increasingly more common with age, up to one quarter of all hospitalized patients receive catheters. In fact, new catheter leg bags for children printed with Teddy bears have been marketed to make infants and children more comfortable with living with catheters. The drain bags are significantly smaller with shorter leg bag extension tubing to make them more maneuverable.
  3. Cleaning the leg bag is complicated and time consuming. You only need to empty your leg bag twice a day — or whenever it becomes half-full– and clean it once before bed. To clean the bag, rinse it with one part vinegar and three parts water, soak for 20 minutes, rinse with warm water and hang to dry. The bag should be replaced once every month or at your doctor’s discretion.
  4. It’s hard to use public restrooms. This myth isn’t entirely false, but it is possible to use a restroom with a catheter. Many people catheterize themselves before leaving home in order to avoid catheterizing themselves in public where sinks and disinfecting soap may not be available immediately prior to catheterizing. Some people use other forms of urinary incontinence medical supplies like pads to offer a back-up layer just in case.
  5. Catheters increase infections. Without proper hygiene, this myth could become true. Catheters are sterile, so the only way you can transmit bacteria to the body via catheter is by not washing or emptying your drain bag, not washing your hands before insertion, or introducing the insertion tube to a foreign material before use. Almost all cases of Urinary Tract Infections in healthcare settings are caused by reckless catheter insertion. In the cases of those who suffer from regular UTIs, from unreleased urine in the bladder, catheters are actually more likely to prevent infections from occurring, and improve your quality of life.