Frequently Asked Questions


Question: What is ostomy?

Answer: Ostomy is a surgically created opening in the body for the discharge of body wastes. A stoma is the actual end of the ureter or small or large bowel that can be seen protruding through the abdominal wall. The most common types of ostomies are colostomy (colon, large intestine), ileostomy (small intestine, usually at the end of the ileum) or urostomy (redirect of urine).

Question: Who should I tell about my surgery?

Answer: You should tell those who need to know such as healthcare providers, your spouse or significant others, possibly your employer’s HR department and people who are involved with your recuperative care. Unless you want, you don’t need to explain your surgery to everyone who asks, especially those who are just curious. If you have children, answer their questions simply and truthfully.

Question: Will I be able to continue my daily activities once I recover from surgery?

Answer: As your strength returns, you can go back to your regular activities and previous line of work. Communicate with your healthcare team about your daily routines so they can assist you to returning to maximum health as early as possible. Ostomy patients are distance runners, skiers, swimmers and other types of athletes.

Question: Should I bathe with or without my pouch?

Answer: You may bathe with or without your pouching system in place. Normal exposure to air or contact with soap and water will not harm the stoma, and water does not enter the opening. Choose a time for bathing when the ostomy is less active. You can also leave the pouch system on while bathing.

Question: Will I need to change my diet?

Answer: There may be some modifications in your diet according to the type of ostomy surgery you have had. People with colostomy and ileostomy surgery should be able to return to their normal diet after a period of adjustment. Introduce foods back into your diet a little at a time and monitor the effect of each food on the ostomy function. As a general rule, chew your food well and drink plenty of fluids. Some less digestible or high roughage foods are more likely to create potential for blockage problems. There are no eating restrictions as a result of urostomy surgery. Follow your healthcare team recommendations.

Question: Will I be able to wear the same clothes?

Answer: Whatever you wore before surgery, you can wear afterward with a few exceptions. Many pouching systems made today are unnoticeable even when wearing the most stylish, form fitting clothing. Depending on your stoma location, you may find belts uncomfortable. Cotton knit underpants or hose may give the support and security you need.

Question: What about sex and pregnancy?

Answer: Sex and intimacy are important and fulfilling and should continue after ostomy surgery and a period of adjustment. Sexual function in women is usually not impaired, while sexual potency in men may be affected, usually temporarily. Conception does not change and pregnancy and delivery should be normal after ostomy surgery. Discuss any of these issues with your physician or ostomy nurse.

Question: Is travel possible with an ostomy?

Answer: All methods of travel are open to you. Take along enough supplies to last the entire trip plus some extra, double what you think you may need. Carry supplies on the plane with you. Keep your supplies cool, and get a note from your doctor stating you need to carry supplies. Always check with your healthcare team before starting to travel.

Question: Will I always wear the same pouch system?

Answer: As you heal, your system may change due to stoma changes or your lifestyle may necessitate a change. Evaluate your system periodically.

Question: Got any tips on emptying the pouch?

Answer: Fullness causes leakage problems, so always empty prior to going away from a convenient toilet. Sit on the toilet with the pouch between your legs. Hold the pouch up and unclamp or slowly unroll the tail into the toilet. Clean pouch off with toilet paper, re-clamp or roll up the pouch.

Question: My stoma site seems irritated, what can I do to fix that and prevent it from happening?

Answer: We carry several products to help skin heal and keep skin healthy around your stoma area. Feel free to call us at 800-873-7121 or email us at and we will help you to find the right products to help your specific situation. There is no reason to have skin problems at the stoma site with the right products and diligence in care.

Question: Where can I find ostomy help?

Answer: United Ostomy Association of America can be reached at 1-800-826-0826 or visit for an abundance of ostomy related information. For medical assistance, seek help from your physician, surgeon or ostomy nurse. Contact the Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nurses (WOCN) office at 1-800-224-9626 for information and local referrals for ostomy nurse specialists. Contact the American Cancer Society at 1-800-ACS-2345 for cancer information.

Question: Does Insurance cover the cost of ostomy supplies?

Answer: Check with your insurance plan, but most individual health insurance plans will typically pay 80% of the “reasonable and customary” costs after the deductible is met. Medicare Part B covers ostomy equipment. Medicare only allows a predetermined maximum quantity each month. Check with Medicaid for specifics since each state is different. Feel free to contact Mountain View Medical Supply direct at 1-800-873-7121 or and we can help with your specific Medicare/Medicaid product coverage.

Return to top


Question: What is a catheter?

Answer: A catheter is a urological tube system placed in the body to drain and collect urine from the bladder. Some urological systems, especially for men, can collect urine outside of the body. Usually catheters are used as a way to manage urinary incontinence.

Question: What features should a catheter have?

Answer: The material should be biocompatible (not cause allergic reactions or irritation); it should be flexible and accommodate the urethral contours; it should be made from a material that does not change shape when the temperature varies; it should provide atraumatic (gentle and comfortable) insertion; it should be ready to use (easy to handle and not requiring any extra equipment), and it should provide a “no-touch” application to reduce the risk of infection (insertion right from the package without the need to actually touch the catheter).

Question: How much fluid should I drink?

Answer: It is generally recommended that adults drink 6-8 glasses of fluid each day. Your needs may be different so speak to your doctor. Avoid drinks with caffeine as they can irritate the bladder.

Question: How often should I catheterize?

Answer: This depends on how much you drink during the day and, more precisely, on how much urine you excrete. Normally catheterization is done up to 4-5 times each day and on a regular schedule. If you are unable to feel when your bladder is full, the right time is always before the bladder empties itself or “overflows” – that is, before incontinence occurs. Keeping a Bladder Diary is helpful to learn about your intermittent catheterization needs. (If you need a Bladder Diary, email us at and we will be happy to send you one). In all cases, you want to catheterize enough times so that no more than 500 ml of urine are drained per catheterization procedure.

Question: What size catheter should I use?

Answer: Similar to prescription medications, all internal catheters require a prescription (external catheters do not). Your health care provider will determine the correct size catheter for you and provide you with a prescription. It should be small enough to prevent injury to the urethra and large enough to allow for the flow of urine.

Question: What do I do if I cannot pass the catheter into my bladder?

Answer: Usually if you cannot pass the catheter it is due to a spasm at the sphincter. Relax; take a deep breath or cough. Hold the catheter gently against the closed sphincter. It will usually open after a few seconds. Never force the catheter as you can cause injury to the urethra. If you cannot pass the catheter after 3 or 4 tries, call your healthcare provider or go to the emergency room. The healthcare provider will have special catheters available to catheterize you. If this problem occurs often you may need to use a catheter with a bent or coude tip.

Question: What are signs of infection in the kidneys or bladder?

Answer: If you have a urinary tract infection, you may experience one or more of these symptoms:

  1. More frequent urination than normal
  2. Leakage of urine between normal voiding
  3. Increased muscle spasms (spinal injury patients)
  4. Fever
  5. Back Pain
  6. Milky, cloudy, or darkly colored urine
  7. Foul smelling urine

See your doctor right away if you experience any of these symptoms.

Question: How do I go about getting catheter supplies?

Answer: If your catheter system requires a prescription from your health care provider, simply fax or have your prescription faxed to Mountain View Medical Supply at 303-455-1333. When placing your order online with Mountain View Medical Supply, note in the comment field that a prescription will be faxed and the approximate date of that fax. Once we receive your prescription and your order, we will send your supplies to you and will fulfill your reorders as needed or prescribed. To renew a prescription, you can simply have your health care provider fax in the prescription to us. We have great pricing and we are happy to stock your supplies as needed.


Aseptic Intermittent Catheterization: The process of performing intermittent catheterization using sterile equipment and inserting the catheter in a sterile way.

Bladder Diary: A record of fluid intake and when one urinates or leaks urine.

Catheterization: The process of inserting a tube into the bladder to drain urine.

Foley Catheter: A catheter that is inserted into the bladder through the urethra for continuous emptying of the bladder.

French: A measurement of catheter diameter. 1 French = 1/3mm.Incontinence: The involuntary loss of bladder or bowel control and the accidental loss of urine or stool.

Indwelling Catheter: A catheter that stays in the bladder for several days or weeks at a time. (Foley Catheter)

Intermittent Catheterization: A catheter that is inserted into the bladder to drain urine at times or regular intervals.Leg Bag: A plastic, flat bag that attaches to the leg to collect urine from an indwelling or Foley catheter or a male external catheter.

Self-Catheterization: The means of emptying the bladder with an intermittent catheter.

Voiding: Urination.

Return to top

Compression Stockings

Question: What is DVT and how does it start?

Answer: DVT stands for Deep Vein Thrombosis. It is a blood clot in the deep veins that dislodges and travels through the circulatory system. It could be life threatening if the blood clot blocks the pulmonary artery to the lungs (pulmonary embolism).

Question: Does compression therapy prevent blood from circulating properly?

Answer: Compression therapy is a mechanical treatment which operates from the outside and exerts pressure reducing the caliber of sick veins. The valves become closer which allows them to carry out their function. The venous blood circulation increases, the ebbing is controlled and the stasis weakens. The venous circulation gets better. The compressive treatment has no effect on arteries.

Question: If I continually wear compression stockings are my leg muscles weakened?

Answer: Compression stockings and bandages have no negative effect on muscles. Patients treated by compression have to move a lot, thus keeping the muscles more active.

Question: Can I prevent the appearance of varicose veins?

Answer: Be aware of your personal risks, identify any early warning signs and get moving! Walk, take the stairs, find a physical activity and do it regularly. If you must sit or stand all day, be sure to move around every hour. Raise your legs, shower your legs with cold water and wear compression stockings to combat the appearance of varicose veins.

Question: What is graduated compression and why is it so important?

Answer: Graduated compression puts the strongest pressure where the veins are weakest. Simply because of gravity, that’s usually the ankles. That is where the greatest swelling occurs. And, the single most important component in treatment of venous disease is the reduction of swelling.

Question: How do graduated compression therapy stockings work?

Answer: Medically accurate graduated compression therapy stockings push dilated vein walls back into place, enabling veins to close properly and function more efficiently. The result is increased blood flow which, in turn, significantly reduces leg swelling, pain, fatigue and risk of blood clot formation.

Question: Why are medical stockings sold by prescription only?

Answer: Because medical compression stockings are designed to provide exact compression, the correct fit is critical. Exact compression means that pressure is distributed in a graduated manner up the leg, maximizing blood flow from the leg veins back to the heart. Only a professional fitter can ensure accurate measurement of your legs and therefore, the right stockings for your individual needs. Every retailer that sells compression stockings should be a professional fitter so be sure to verify this when purchasing your stockings. COMPRESSION STOCKINGS ARE TO BE WORN ONLY AS PRESCRIBED BY YOUR PHYSICIAN AND ARE NOT RECOMMENDED FOR PATIENTS WITH SEVERE ARTERIAL INSUFFICIENCY.

Question: Is there a cure for venous disease?

Answer: There is no cure for venous disease. It is a chronic condition that, left untreated, worsens over time. There are treatment options that address the symptoms of venous disease, perhaps even stops its progression. But, the facts is, a damaged vein can’t fix or heal itself. That is why its important that vein problems are diagnosed and treated immediately.

Question: Can I drink coffee, tea and alcohol when I have a venous disorder?

Answer: Coffee and tea has no influence on a serious venous thrombosis or post-thrombotic syndrome. Alcohol, however, dilates veins so they have to double their work. Check with your doctor about moderate consumption of alcohol.

Question: How will I feel in compression stockings?

Answer: The first thing you will notice is reduced swelling and virtually no pain. Of course, like any new therapy, they may take some getting used to, but you’ll have more energy and feel better almost immediately.

Question: How do I go about getting my compression stockings?

Answer: First, have your prescription faxed to Mountain View Medical Supply at 303-455-1333. Second, you need to be fitted and the best time to do that is in the morning when swelling is at its lowest. Call us at 1-800-873-7121 and one of our fitters will assist you in taking your own measurements. Third, we can take your order over the phone and ship to you direct. Check with your insurance provider to see if medical compression stockings are covered by your policy.

Return to top


Question: What are the different types of incontinence?

Answer: There are three main types:

  1. Stress Incontinence is the most common form affecting women and it occurs when there is a sudden rise in pressure within the abdomen (cough, sneeze, laugh, lift or exercise).
  2. Urge Incontinence occurs when the urge to urinate is so strong and sudden that there is often no time to make it to the toilet. It often results from an underlying health problem such as disease, stroke, MS, or undiagnosed tumor. Medications can also play a role in incontinence.
  3. Overflow Incontinence is most common in older men, mainly caused by bladder stones or enlarged prostate. When the prostate gets bigger, it can squeeze the urethra and make urination difficult. The bladder may then get overfilled, a condition that leads to near-constant dribbling.

Question: What are the main causes of incontinence?

Answer: Incontinence is biological in most cases. In men, prostate problems or prostate surgery is probably the most common cause. In women, pregnancy and vaginal delivery is the most common cause of incontinence. Diabetics tend to have decreased bladder emptying and are somewhat prone to having overflow, stress or urge incontinence. As people age, incontinence is more common, but incontinence can be seen in children, adolescence and adults, both male and female.

Question: How is incontinence diagnosed?

Answer: By a doctor – provide your history and get a physical exam. Usually a urinalysis is performed and depending on the findings of the history and physical, further testing may be appropriate.

Question: How is incontinence treated?

Answer: Depending on the type(s), some methods include:A) Incontinence Products – Liners, pads, briefs, waterproof pants, bed pads, disposable skin cloths, etc. can be used long term or while being treated for symptoms causing incontinence.B) Behavior Modification – You and the doctor outsmart the condition by setting up a urination schedule to prevent accidents.C) Exercise – If the muscles of your pelvic floor are weak, your doctor may teach you how to do Kegel exercises. (Make sure you do them correctly or you could make the condition worse)D) Medication – Your doctor may prescribe medication to relax your bladder muscles, shrink the prostate gland, tighten the ring of muscles that surrounds the opening of the bladder or for postmenopausal women, estrogen therapy is sometimes prescribed.

Question: What can I do to take care of myself?

Answer:* If you sneeze or cough, cross your legs. This method may lessen stress incontinence.* Cut out foods and beverages that contain caffeine (coffee, tea, chocolate).* Drink one to two quarts of water a day.* Use absorbent products for security, and change them regularly.* Go to the bathroom frequently, even if you don’t feel the need.* Urinate before you leave the house or go to bed; this will reduce the chance of accidents.* If you have mobility problems, clear a path to the bathroom, keep a night light on and wear clothes you can take off easily.

Question: Do recurring bladder infections impact incontinence?

Answer: Recurrent bladder infections can cause enough bladder irritation to cause incontinence. They can also make any underlying condition worse.

Question: How do I go about getting incontinence supplies?

Answer: Mountain View Medical Supply carries a full line of incontinence products. If you need help, call us at 1-800-873-7121, or email us at and we will be happy to help you determine what products will work best for your situation.

TROUBLESHOOTING LEAKAGE/ABSORBENCY:* Make sure to select the best product for your situation. From very light incontinence that only needs panty liners or pads to heavy incontinence that requires adult briefs and under pads, we have a product for every situation.* Make sure you have the correct size. Briefs that are too large will leak because of sagging. Measure your waist or your hips (whichever is larger) and consult packaging to determine which size is best for you.* There should be a snug fit in the perineal area.* For briefs, angle the bottom tabs up to cup the buttocks, and the top tabs town to hug the waist.

TROUBLESHOOTING SKIN IRRITATION:* If the skin at the mid-thigh area appears “scalded”, the product may not be close enough to the perineal area. Position the product closer to the body for a snug fit.* If the skin is blistered at the upper thigh, elastics may be positioned incorrectly. Elastics should rest in the natural creases of the groin.* Be sure to change products regularly.* Take care of skin regularly exposed to voiding by using proper skin cleansers.* Reposition the body regularly.

TROUBLESHOOTING ODOR:* Thoroughly clean the area after each incontinence episode.* Roll up and secure soiled products before disposal.* Use a trash receptacle with a secure lid. .

Return to top

Wound Care

Question: How Many Types of Wounds are There?

Answer: Wounds come in many shapes and sizes and are caused by accidents (burns and cuts), surgery (incisions), conditions (diabetic foot ulcers or immobility), infections (gangrene or spider bites) or diseases Some wounds are open and some are closed, most heal and some resist healing for a long period of time. There are wound care products that can help any type of wound.

Question: When Should I Call My Doctor?

Answer: When in doubt, always call your doctor. Here are a few guidelines:

No noticeable improvement of the wound with treatment.Wound becomes tender or inflamed.The area around the wound feels numb.The wound drains a thick, creamy, grayish fluid.You cant move comfortably.Red streaks form near the wound.Bleeding is irregular or you cant stop bleeding after ten minutes of firm, direct pressure.

Question: What Kind of Wound Products are Available?

Answer: There are products that range from healing small cuts, to open wounds that must remain moist to wounds that need to be packed and bandaged. Obviously skin care is an important part of healing – not only the wound itself, but also the skin around the wound needs to be cared for. Speak with your healthcare team to determine what products are best for your situation. There is no reason to suffer with the products available on the market today.

Question: Why Did My Doctor Give Me Instructions to Care for My Wound?

Answer: You have a major role in the healing process of your wound. It is imperative that you follow instructions carefully and monitor the progress of your wound to avoid complications. Keep the wound clean, allow your body to scab (do not pick at scabs), and use all products your doctor instructs you to use. Simply put, diligently follow instructions, keep the wound clean, monitor progress and allow your wound to heal.

Question: Should I Limit My Activities?

Answer: Speak with your doctor about your daily routine. Generally, limiting movement of the area around your wound improves healing. Avoid activities that could cause your scar to pull apart such as lifting, straining, exercise or sports until your doctor says it is ok to resume regular activities.

Question: What About Skin Exposure?

Answer: A healing scar will darken and become more noticeable if it gets sunburned. Limit your sun exposure by covering the scar and always use sunscreen.

Question: What About Pressure Relief?

Answer: For those who are immobile and develop ulcers or bed sores, there are several options including “egg-crate” pads and decubitus bed pads. There are also elbow and heel pads or bed wedges that help to elevate and prop the body into ideal positions.

Question: Do I Need a Tetanus Shot?

Answer: The best way to avoid tetanus infection is to talk to your doctor and make sure your shots are up to date.If you have further questions, please call us at 800-873-7121 or email us at


Return to top