How to manage your stoma
Written by Michele Jogee on 06/12/2019
If you’re new to the world of stomas, you may have just found out that a stoma is a surgically created opening which links a person’s intestine through the abdomen. The procedure (called a colostomy) is usually a surgical solution for people who are unable to have a bowel movement through the rectum.
There are various reasons for having this surgery, and they include bowel cancer, bladder cancer, birth defects, prostate cancer, a blockage to the colon or inflammatory bowel disease. The type of stoma used depends on the reason for the surgery so before surgery is performed, an assessment is made to determine the best bag to use as well as the best position for the stoma for convenience and easy access.
A stoma resembles a pinkish, bud-like structure on the surface of the abdomen and it can be placed temporarily or permanently. Initially, the stoma will appear dark red but over time this red colour should fade to adopt a light red or pinkish colour. It shouldn’t stop you from carrying on with your life as normal, however, you will need to learn how to change the bag and manage the stoma hygienically.
How to care for your stoma
Very rarely, a piece of the bowel can push out through the stoma, and the medical term for this is a prolapse. This is a condition which may require surgery, so it is important to contact your doctor if you notice any abnormality with the stoma.
You can still enjoy swimming with a stoma without needing a special swimsuit. Some stoma bag covers are swim-friendly, however, it is advisable to empty the contents of the bag before swimming.
If there is a concern about an odour coming from the stoma, you may want to get an ostomy deodorant spray to neutralise the smell.
How to change your stoma bag
As mentioned earlier, changing your stoma bag is not difficult even though it may seem daunting at first. After some practice, you will get used to changing your bag routinely and you will find that stoma bag changes are not time-consuming at all.
How often should you change your pouch?
You can change your colostomy pouch as often as you want, usually after a bowel motion. For a one-piece closed pouch, you may need to replace the entire pouch. With a two-piece pouch, you can replace the colostomy pouch as often as required and usually replace the baseplate once or twice a week. If you use drainable pouches, they can be emptied whenever necessary. One-piece drainable pouches are usually replaced every 2-3 days according to personal preference. With two-piece drainable systems, you can replace the pouch itself as often as required, and usually replace the baseplate once or twice a week.
If you find that you or a loved one are struggling with managing a stoma bag, you can request the services of a visiting carer. A carer can help get supplies of wipes, stoma bag, adhesive remover spray, stoma bag, barrier spray/rings or paste and a disposal sack as well as cutting your stoma bag to the correct size if need be. If you’re in London or it’s environs, HP Homecare can provide you with a visiting carer who can help you ensure that your stoma is properly looked after each day. If you need to discuss this with our expert stoma care team, please reach out to us. In our next article, we will cover how to look after yourself after a different kind of surgery - Caeserean surgery.
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