With any type of stoma whether it is a Urostomy, Ileostomy or Colostomy...odour is one of the top complaints for an ostomate.
As part of the series #UnderstandingUrostomies, I have decided to focus on ‘Urostomy and Odour’
It is important to point out that even if you have a Urostomy not everybody will have the same trouble with odour. Across the Facebook group Urostomy Awareness, I have observed that some Urostomates find that their urine does not smell any different than before. However, the majority of Urostomates may notice a strong smell because the urine goes through a piece of bowel with mucus instead of a sterile bladder. Personally, I struggle with the urine odour far more than my Ileostomy.
I would like to point out that the Urostomy pouches are made with odour-barrier film so therefore they are odour proof. So technically the only time you should note an odour is when emptying the pouch. Urine is normally acidic and has a mild odour anyway. If you notice a strong ammonia smell, your urine may have lost its acidity. When this happens it may irritate the skin around the stoma and the alkaline urine could cause Urinary Crystals and other complications. Interestingly the night drainage bags and connecting tubes are not odour proof and therefore you may sense an odour at night. This happens to me after 5 days so I make sure to change the night bag and connector regularly.
Common causes of Urostomy odour
- Urinary Tract Infections and kidney infections can make your urine smell stronger and produce more mucus. I will be covering this, next week.
- Some medications can affect the odour e.g antibiotics, dietary supplements etc
- Certain foods can change the smell of your urine in your Urostomy. The top offenders are:
- Some cheeses
Also, I would like to point out that certain foods and medications can change the colour of your urine:
- Beetroot – changes red/pink
- Some medications like warfarin, antibiotics, and antidepressants may change the colour. From experience, the antibiotic nitrofuracin turned my urine bright yellow and even though I drank lots of water the colour did not change.
- Iron tablets may turn your urine black so please do not worry if this happens to you.
How do I reduce the odour?
- Up your fluid intake. We should be drinking 2-3 litres a day. For me, if I don’t drink enough I notice that the urine odour is much stronger.
- Check that you are not leaking and your stoma size on your pouch is correct. If leaking is an issue please contact your stoma nurse to try different appliances.
- Some people have told me that taking cranberry tablets can help with the odour, and can reduce the amount of mucus and help prevent urinary infections.
**Disclaimer, do not take cranberry juice or tablets without consulting with your physician first, Cranberry can affect how some blood thinning medications like warfarin from working effectively**
- You could change your Urostomy pouch more frequently if the smell is becoming a concern.
- Vitamin C tablets can help with the odour and keep your urine acidic. However please check with your GP first.
- Some people rinse out their Urostomy pouches often and may even use a 50% vinegar and 50% water solution. This is also good at removing Urinary Crystals and will not damage your stoma as long as it is diluted.
- There are certain drops on the market that you can put in your pouch. I will cover this later on.
- Deodorising sprays can be used afterward or in the case of VIPoo before you empty. This product is my new best friend and I think it works brilliantly
Products you can put in your pouch
OstoMIST is manufactured by OstoMART but Respond have brought this company out. This product instead of masking the smell it neutralises it. I have spoken to Respond today and their specialist stoma nurse who was lovely who confirmed a few things for me. I put a post on my Facebook Page a few weeks ago and a few Urostomates told me that their stoma nurses said they could not use the OstoMIST. Not every stoma nurse appreciates that a Urostomy ‘smells’ and assumes the smell is the same as urine from a bladder.
So I decided to contact the manufactures directly and they have gone above and beyond to find me the relevant information. They say that there is no reason Urostomates cannot use OstoMIST and that maybe some stoma nurses may have advised not to use it possibly due to cost and it is assumed Urostomy smell is not as bad as a faecal stoma. The other point the manufactures made is it is ideal to apply the drops from the bottom of the pouch. If you have a bung this is fine, however if you have a tap this may be a bit harder. They advise to avoid the base plate when putting the drops into the bag so the base plate doesn’t get eaten away by the product and compromise the adhesive, also to avoid any absorption by the stoma.
I have used this product after my partner Steve Cartmail #BagDaddy fellow ileostomate uses OstoMIST and told me to try it for my Urostomy pouch. It worked amazingly and after a few days, I could smell the orange. Well worth giving it a try, however, I have to mention that it may be hard to justify a prescription after the new clamp down on products. I buy this myself and have found it isn’t that expensive and worth it in my opinion.
M9 (American name) and Adapt (UK equivalent)
This product is manufactured by Hollister the M9 is the American equivelent to the Adapt Lubricating deodrant in the UK. Personally, I have not tried it. A lot of american Urostomates use the M9 and say it works well. However after talking to Hollister they stated that it is for Ileostomy and Colostomy only and should not be used in a Urostomy because “It may not be any benefit” They couldn’t talk on behalf of M9 because it is a USA Holister product.
I have not received a call back from the manufactures of Na'Scent and cannot confirm if as a Urostomate if we
can use this product.
Brava Lubricating Deodorant
Again I have not tried this. After calling Charter the lovely women told me about the Brava Lubricating Deodorant explained that it is a liquid you put in your pouch. It is for Ileostomy and Colostomy, however, some people with a Urostomy do use it but it does not work the same due to the urine. They assured me it is still ok to use in your Urostomy but will not be as effective as the other stoma types. I am getting samples of this product so I will let you know the result in a couple of weeks.
Odor can be an issue for Urostomates but I feel we can be forgotten about by the companies and their products do not mention if we can use them. Drinking enough water, mindful of the foods you eat and staying vigilant for any infections can help with the odour. As mentioned some products are out there that go into your pouch and may be worth trying them out.
Thank you to all the companies that I spoke to and advice I received. I have highlighted to them that as a Urostomate we can be forgotten about and hopefully they may look into this.