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Caring for Your Urine Collection Bag

Many men and women require catheters in order to expel urine from their bodies. The reasons can range from surgery to spinal cord injuries. Many opt to use a Foley catheter in order to meet their urinary needs. This particular type of catheter is inserted into the bladder and held in place with a small balloon that is inflated. From there, the user has the option to drain their urine into a collection bag or one that is smaller and is positioned on the leg. More importantly, knowing how to properly drain and clean these collection bags can help prevent other medical issues like infections and can improve your quality of life.

Caring for Your Urine Collection Bag

Choose Your Bag

Caring for Your Urine Collection Bag

No matter what style of indwelling catheter you use, you will need to choose a collection bag that your catheter empties into. This is an individual choice for each user and lifestyle and/or activities may determine which one you choose. Some may opt for a urine leg bag. As the name implies, these are worn on the leg and are discrete since they can be worn under clothing. While strapped to the leg and being covert, the downside is they tend to be smaller therefore may need to be emptied more frequently. These are great options for those who may be self-conscious about their catheter. For nighttime use, many opt for a larger urine drainage bag. These allow for larger volumes of urine overnight and have measurements on them in order to accurately measure urine output. The larger volume is critical for two reasons. The first is we may produce more urine during the hours that we may be sleeping and many bags now are equipped with anti-reflux valves so the urine does not back up and cause potential problems in the kidneys. Secondly, with a larger capacity we can actually have peace of mind and get a full night’s sleep.

Caring for Your Urine Collection Bag

Emptying and Cleaning Your Leg Bag

During the day you may empty your leg bag several times depending on how much you drink and what your bladder can hold. Many of these bags are reusable, but require proper care in order to prolong their life and to avoid infection. The most obvious time to care for them is at night when you can connect your catheter to a nighttime bag. In order to remove and/or change your leg bag you will need some supplies. According to clevelandclinic.org, these can include:

  • Leg straps
  • Cotton balls or alcohol pads
  • Water
  • Towel
  • White vinegar
  • Large drainage bag

Before emptying and removing your current bag you should always wash your hands with soap and water. After placing a towel under the connection between your catheter and bag, you should pinch off the rubber tube (to avoid urine leakage) to the catheter and remove it from the old bag. Prepare the new tip of your leg bag by wiping it down with an alcohol pad or cotton ball and insert into catheter tube. Fasten the straps of the leg bag and secure with tape, being sure to leave a little slack to avoid any tension on the catheter or urethra. You’re good to go!! Some manufacturers (such as Bard) even offer leg bags that come with latex straps to attach your collection bag to your leg. Cleaning the leg bag is a simple affair. Simply rinse out your leg bag with a solution that includes three parts water, one part vinegar. Once you allow this to soak for approximately 20 minutes, rinse the bag with soapy water and hang up to dry. By following some simple guidelines you can maximize the efficiency of your catheter and bag system. Clevelandclinic.org points to a few tips that can help you and they include:

  • Drinking plenty of liquids
  • Contacting your doctor immediately if you dislodge your catheter
  • Avoid pulling on your catheter
  • Make sure your collection bag is below your bladder (to avoid backflow of urine)
  • Do not twist or loop your catheter tubing

Maintaining a clean catheter and collection bag can go a long way in avoiding any urinary tract infection. By keeping your collection bag clean you not only avoid UTIs, but by extending the life of your collection bag it saves you money in the long run. While your nighttime collection bag can allow you do enjoy a good night sleep, your leg bag allows you to continue to enjoy your independence and mobility without the worry of urinary incontinence.