An ostomy is a name given to surgery that makes an opening in the skin – known as a stoma – which enables waste and gas to exit the small or large intestine without needing to pass through the rectum or bladder. The waste is collected in a pouch or bag on the outside of the body. Some people may only need an ostomy while they undergo treatment or while they are healing from surgery, but others may need to have a permanent ostomy in place. Whatever your situation, this guide outlines some ways to make living with an ostomy a little easier.
Get the best ostomy products
When it comes to ordering new ostomy products for use at home, it is important to source the right type of pouch and other high-quality ostomy care from Byram Healthcare. It can be confusing to know what to choose, so if you are in any doubt, you should ask your healthcare team.
Consider specialized clothing
It is not essential that you buy different clothes as ostomy pouches are intended to be discreet and close-fitting, and they do not allow any odors to escape. However, there are clothing ranges that have been designed to make it easier to wear the pouch, such as underwear and wraps to hold the bag in place.
At first, it may feel strange to exercise with an ostomy, but there should be no reason why you cannot engage in most activities, including work, sports, and physical intimacy with a partner. It is important to note that sweat may loosen the tape that holds the pouch to the skin, but there are products that make this less likely such as specialist exercise pouches.
The skin surrounding the ostomy needs to be shaved and kept clean and dry, and any products applied should not contain oil or alcohol as this will make it harder for the pouch to stay in place.
Plan your diet
If you have an ileostomy or colostomy, stool and gas will move into the pouch, so it is important to be cautious about what you eat and to stay hydrated. You may want to avoid foods that cause gas and foods that are not easily digested, like nuts or corn. If there are certain foods that cause constipation or diarrhea, it is best to avoid them.
Be cautious with medication
It is important to bear in mind that different medications interact differently with the body. For example, a medication that takes a long time to be absorbed is likely to pass out of the body into the pouch before it can work. Others can affect how often you urinate or can cause constipation, diarrhea, or urinary stones.
Empty your ostomy bag regularly
The ostomy bag will need to be emptied several times each day, ideally when it is under 50% full, and you will need ostomy supplies with you wherever you go. Some people find it useful to plan their meals and drinks depending on their day, e.g., avoiding heavy meals or lots of fluids before an event or long journey.