Ileostomy Pouches

Most ileostomy pouches are a two-piece pouch system consisting of a wafer, the portion that attaches directly to the skin, and the pouch, the portion that attaches to the wafer and serves as the collecting reservoir. There are several brands to choose from on the market. Trying more than one may be necessary to find the one that works best for you.

Tips for good adherence

Preparation of the skin around the stoma for good adherence of the wafer is crucial to long wear time. Your skin must be clean and dried thoroughly before placing the wafer. Some people have found that using a hair dryer on the cool setting, or just air, dries their skin adequately. High-humidity climates and high temperatures may decrease the amount of time you can expect to wear your wafer before needing to change it. A very active lifestyle and perspiration may also decrease your wear time.

Tips about living with the pouch

Consider always carrying an emergency kit with extra supplies such as wafers, pouches, an extra precut wafer, a roll of tape, mirror, and cleansing cloths without emollients. Wearing clothing with pleats in slacks, dresses, or skirts helps to conceal your pouch in cases where you may feel self-conscious about having it hanging from your abdomen. Exercise caution when allowing your pets or young children to jump into your lap where the pouch is located. Also, be cautious when putting on your seat belt and allowing the lap belt to stretch across the area where the stoma is located.

Learning about food and digestion

Diet can be somewhat of a concern. A person with an ostomy should be especially aware of foods that cause flatulence. Of course, passing excess gas is a normal part of the digestive process, and most people typically pass gas more than 10 times a day to rid the colon of unwanted gases and pressure. The gas (a mixture of hydrogen, methane, and carbon dioxide) results from the chemical breakdown of undigested sugars in the lower intestine. Some complex carbohydrates cannot be completely broken down by normal digestive processes, and gas is the result. Altering your diet to limit these products may help. Offending foods, which can cause odor or gas vary from person to person, can include:

  • Asparagus,
  • Baked Beans,
  • Broccoli,
  • Cabbage,
  • Carbonated beverages,
  • Cucumbers,
  • Cauliflower,
  • Dairy products (cheeses included),
  • Onions, and
  • Excessive amounts of fruit or fruit juice, bran, or whole-grain foods can also trigger gas. If you drink milk, try a lactose-reduced type.

Traveling tips

Pack extra ostomy supplies and, if you are flying, never pack all your supplies in the checked baggage. Limit and be aware of what you ingest before you travel.

Tips about odor

Liquid and solid products are available to help control odor. Pouches that have charcoal filters built in help to slowly release the gas without odor. Other products are placed into the pouch, while others can be taken internally. It is helpful to empty your pouch when it is one-third full. As for embarrassing moments, they say that anything that doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. There may be times when all is quiet and your stoma decides to let out some gas.

Effect on stool

Depending on the type of surgery you have, passing of stools may occur at any time. Most often this is advantageous, seldom a detriment. Dehydration is a major risk with an ileostomy. The recommended daily fluid intake is 10–12 eight-ounce glasses of fluids. You should include electrolyte-enhanced drinks such as Gatorade or PowerAde to prevent dehydration.

Spreading the word

Consider becoming a member of a local chapter of the United Ostomy Associations of America (UOAA). The UOAA is dedicated to providing education, information, support, and advocacy for people who have had or will have intestinal or urinary diversions.