Frequently Asked Questions about Ostomy

Gloria Jiménez

Gloria Jiménez

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It is common for the stoma to change its appearance during the first weeks after the operation. The diameter and even the shape change. After this time, most stomas acquire a definitive appearance, which may vary depending on the evolution of the mucosa. Some stomas tend to close. If this happens, consult with the specialist health personnel although it is possible that they have already taught you how to prevent it from happening by means of a massage with the finger, practiced on a regular basis.

It is very important to adapt the diameter of the ostomy plate to the stoma to avoid skin complications.

The stoma does NOT hurt. The mucosa that forms it has no nerve endings and for that reason the stoma is insensitive to pressure, friction and pain. You can touch the stoma and you will not feel anything. Don’t be afraid: wash it, dry it and touch it with confidence. The stoma is not a wound.

If the stoma area hurts, the pain is probably coming from the skin around it. At

If this is the case, it is advisable to consult your specialist.

As many times as you want or as necessary, depending on the type of ostomy you wear. You will adapt the pouch change or emptying to your usual routine. Most people do it 4-5 times a day so that the pouch is not too bulky in the abdomen and is very noticeable. The changes and voiding depend on your diet. Colostomies are usually emptied less often and urostomies are emptied every 2-4 hours.

The best time is when the ostomy is least productive, i.e. when there is the least amount of stool coming out of your stoma. Early in the morning before you eat or drink anything (or at least 1 hour after a meal) is best, but it is up to you to identify the time that is best for you. You may need to change your bag more often if you have been sweating more than usual due to hot weather or exercise.

On the other hand, it is advisable to change the device every 3 days at the most, as after the third day the materials lose effectiveness and this can cause inconveniences such as leaks, odors, etc.

The adhesives of the ostomy care devices are designed to adhere to the skin and stay well attached. If you detect that it starts to peel off at any of the edges, it is best to perform a complete change of device to avoid leakage of feces. If you have continuous and frequent detachments it may be due to several reasons why it does not stick well, that you have wet skin, that the device is not the right one for you. In this case, consult your stomatotherapist.

The use of underwear adapted for people with ostomy is recommended. In SIIL Ostomy line we have garments made with antibacterial and absorbent fabrics that will help if you have a leak.

You should not have any difficulty to swim in the sea or in the swimming pool. The ostomy devices are well adhered to the skin and the water will not detach them. Waterproof barriers work very well and there are other products that can make your ostomy more water resistant. 

Use adapted garments, such as ostomy swimsuits or ostomy belts specially designed to be safely submerged in water.

You can enjoy your bath by keeping the ostomy pouch on and covering the filter with the sticker that comes in the box, to avoid possible leaks and at the same time prevent the filter from losing its function when it gets wet.

Depending on how active your stoma is, it may or may not be more comfortable to shower with the device on.

When the stool is liquid, it is better to keep the pouch on. Showering without the ostomy pouch will be very beneficial for your skin but keep in mind that it is not advisable to apply the jet of pressurized water on your stoma and that too hot water can damage it. In any case, use soap with neutral PH.

People with ileostomies cannot control their bowel movements, just as people with urostomies cannot control the flow of their urine.

Many people with colostomies also have no control over their bowel movements, but if a person has a descending colostomy, he or she may be a candidate for irrigation. This helps people with colostomies have greater continence and be able to have some control when eliminating waste.

After you have an ostomy, you may feel urges to defecate naturally/anally. This is normal. Do not panic. Sitting on the toilet and simulating a bowel movement may help. If the procedure does not involve removal of the rectum/anus, you may pass mucus through the rectum/anus.

Although this may seem like an uncomfortable sensation, you should not be alarmed. It will disappear with time.

Ostomy pouches have an activated carbon filter that minimizes odor and expels gases. Unless stool is leaking from under the pouch, there should be no odors.

However, if you have a problem with odors, there are deodorants that can be placed in the pouch as drops, charcoal tablets or lubricating gel. There are also deodorants that can be taken orally to reduce stool odors. Before use, it is advisable to consult with your doctor or stomatotherapist.

To release gases, there are filters that can be purchased separately and connected to the pouch, or a small plastic vent can be applied to the pouch that will allow gases to be released without opening the ostomy pouch.

Some people find it helpful to empty the pouch before going to bed. This is done because it is possible for gas to accumulate during the night and fill the pouch.

Careful diet will also prevent odors and gas.

One may think that by drinking less, the stool becomes thicker or the level of waste is lower. This is a serious mistake. It is advisable to drink in small sips but you should always stay hydrated.

It is very important to drink water and other liquids as the risk of dehydration and other serious problems is high.

Drinking alcohol is not contraindicated in a person with an ostomy, however, no doctor or stoma therapist will recommend it. That does not mean that at some point you may feel like having a beer or a wine or enjoying a mojito if you are traveling.

If you do, do so in moderation and keep in mind that the problem is not the alcohol itself, but the dehydration you may suffer, especially in hot climates. You should stay hydrated, whether you drink alcohol or not. Drink isotonic drinks or oral serums to help rehydrate your body.

Women of childbearing age may well consider becoming pregnant, although a two-year pause after surgery is recommended.

although a two-year pause after surgery is recommended.

Modifications can occur in the stoma that once the pregnancy is over can be resolved.

Recovery from childbirth should not differ from that of a non-ostomized woman.

It is important to know how an ostomy can affect the absorption of some medications. Although in general there are no great inconveniences, it can happen that the ostomy modifies the speed of absorption of a drug, so the ostomized person should always inform of his condition to any professional who prescribes him a medicine.

Some drugs can produce diarrhea, constipation and changes in the color and odor of the feces and urine of any person, although for an ostomate these circumstances are more evident and worrying. You should not take any medication without being informed of its side effects.

You can be at the beach or at the swimming pool but you should avoid exposing the stoma to the sun or high temperatures since it does not have protective pigments and the risk of suffering a burn is high.

It is important to drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration and eat lightly.

Nothing prevents you from enjoying the beach or the swimming pool with your ostomy pouch.

The devices are prepared to adhere to the skin and do not come off during bathing. You can use your usual pouches or other smaller and more discreet pouches available on the market. Cover the filter to prevent them from losing their function.

You can use an obturator, a kind of plug, which when in contact with the mucosa of the intestine, prevents leaks and gives some independence for a few hours. Not all stoma carriers can use this type of device. Be sure to consult with your stomatotherapist.

As for swimwear, for women it is ideal the use of ostomy swimsuits, adapted, with prints or dark, with ruffles, gathers, which will always help to camouflage the ostomy pouch. In SIIL we have a premium swimwear collection for the ostomized woman.

For men, we recommend the use of ostomy belts or bands. At SIIL we have an ostomy belt suitable for women and men.

You choose your ideal garment to enjoy the water!

El estoma tiene muchosa

What do I do if I bleed aThe stoma has many blood vessels, therefore, it is normal to bleed with the stoma or in case of irrigation. It is normal to find some blood at the time of stoma care and hygiene. Normally, such bleeding will stop in a few minutes.

The use of an anticoagulant or aspirin may cause bleeding more easily and for a longer period of time.

If after five to ten minutes your stoma is still bleeding, apply pressure to the area with a washcloth and call your physician or stoma therapist.

If you notice blood in your stool or blood coming from inside the stoma, see your doctor immediately. the stoma?

vasos sanguíneos, por tanto, es normal que sangre con el tanto o en caso de irrigación. Es normal encontrar algo de sangre en el momento del cuidado e higiene del estoma. Normalmente, dicho sangrado parará en unos minutos.

El uso de anticoagulante o aspirina puede producir sangrado con más facilidad y por más tiempo.

Si tras cinco o diez minutos tu estoma sigue sangrando, aplica presión sobre la zona con una toallita y llame a su médico o estomaterapeuta.

Si nota sangre en las heces o sangre proveniente del interior del estoma, acuda al médico de inmediato.

A priori, having a colostomy, ileostomy or urostomy does not have to be any impediment to return to work, however, it will have to be individualized in each patient.

After surgery, you will need time to recover and heal. Consider returning to work once you are feeling well. You could return to work gradually or propose a reduction in your work schedule to your employer.

If you are concerned about your ostomy care at your workplace, consult with your doctor or stomatotherapist about it.

If your job requires manual labor, or physical exertion such as heavy lifting, you may be advised to wear a stoma protector or an ostomy girdle or belt to protect your ostomy. In addition, it is recommended to use adapted underwear to ensure your comfort during the working day. At SIIL Ostomy line you will find ostomy panties, ostomy bands, ostomy belts and stoma protectors.

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