The Different Types of Ostomies

An ostomy is generally a part of the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease, cancer, or other similar abdominal condition. Most of the people think of a colostomy when they hear the word ostomy. The fact of the matter is that there are two types of intestinal ostomies: ileostomy and colostomy. Let’s discuss both of them.

What is an ileostomy?

The intestinal diversion created as a result of bringing the end of the small intestine through the abdominal wall is known as an ileostomy. The stoma of an ileostomy is the end-point of the small intestine or ileum. With an ileostomy, you have to wear an ostomy bag over the stoma to collect bodily waste.

There are two types of ileostomies.

  • The first type is known as a loop ileostomy. The surgeon creates this ileostomy by making an incision on the side of the small intestine. Then the surgeon pulls that part of the small intestine through the abdominal incision in such a way the incision in the small intestine becomes an opening to pass out stool. A loop ileostomy is reversible.
  • The second type is an end ileostomy, which is mostly permanent. The surgical process of the creation of this ileostomy involves pulling the end of the small intestine through an artificial opening in the abdomen.

The surgeon will create a temporary ileostomy if your colon needs to rest and heal. An ileostomy is a part of colorectal cancer in many cases. Other conditions that can lead a person to require an ileostomy may include inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease, and severe blockage. All these conditions may result in a permanent or temporary ileostomy.

What is a colostomy?

Your surgeon will choose to perform colostomy surgery when you need a part of your colon removed, or stool needs to divert away from the rectum or anus. The stoma that passes out waste from a colostomy is made up of the large intestine.

It may be worth understanding the role of the colon here. The role of the colon is to absorb any water and electrolytes from the stool coming from the small intestine. Because a colostomy uses some length of the colon, the stool passing out of the stoma is more firm. That is why a colostomy is different than an ileostomy.

In some cases, you may have to irrigate your colostomy. This irrigation involves forcing a stream of water into the stoma, which triggers the bowel movement. After the stool passes out in response to the irritation process, the patient may no longer need to wear an ostomy pouch.

A colostomy, too, can be permanent or temporary. It mainly depends on the state of your rectum and anus. If they are not much diseased, and there is a chance that they will heal in a few months if given rest, your surgeon will prefer giving you a temporary colostomy. Otherwise, it will be a permanent colostomy.

How to Prevent Ostomy Odor

Those who have ostomates worry about passing gas or emitting odors in public, and you may worry if it’ll interfere with your social life, cause stress and anxiety, or the like.  Usually, they’re made of odor-proof materials, which is great, until there’s of course a leak.  You should only notice smells however when you empty and change your bag.

Living with an ostomy can cause challenges, but, if you know what you’re doing, you can prevent these doors. Here are some simple ways to deal with these problems.

Empty your Pouch a Lot

As a general rule, you should empty it when it’s about a third to a half bag full. If it gets too full, it causes extra pressure to form on the stoma and the skin, and it can also loosen the seal, causing odor and bodily waste.  You should learn from your ET nurse on how to properly change and empty the pouch system. How often you need to empty it does depend on the type, and the location of your stoma.  Usually, you’ll need to do it 1-3 times if it’s a colostomies, 4-10 times for an ileostomies, and for those who have it because of an urostomy, it really depends on your fluid intake.

Avoid Foods and Beverages That Will Cause Problems

There are some foods and beverages which cause odors and may affect the smell of your ostomy pouch.  Anything with soluble fiber and sugars are something that you should avoid. A lot of fruits and veggies contain this, but dairy, beans, nuts, and even sodas also create an odor. If you do have an urostomy, you might be worried about the urine smell, and you might want to minimize this by drinking more fluids, including water and cranberry juice, but garlic, fish, asparagus, and onions all do contribute to the odor and gas. While these foods are all healthy, so you should continue to eat them, you should be mindful of how much you eat, and try to make sure you do empty your bag as much as you can to prevent this.

Avoid Swallowing Air

Swallowing air actually causes gas to produce, so it might be best to avoid doing this if at all possible.  Drinking carbonated beverages, through straws, chewing gum, and even smoking all contribute to this, so you should make sure that you take the time to avoid these habits.

A Filter and an Odor Eliminator

Odorous gas can make its way into a bag and fill it with some air. If the air isn’t released, the pressure causes the pouch to inflate, which causes leaks. Odor-reduction filter helps with this, and you can apply one before you put your pouch on. they can usually be applied to any bag, but they work best with a formed output.

Odor eliminators should be used too. There are appliance deodorizers which you can use every time you try to empty and change out the appliance. They’re discreet, and super easy to use. While some of the in-pouch deodorizers are scented, others are used to eliminate bacteria.  You can also use different deodorizers to help reduce the stoma output. 

Even a room deodorizer works well with this, helping you eliminate the airborne odors quickly, and effectively.

It’s hard to escape the smell, but with these tips, you sure can, no matter what.

How to Prevent Ostomy Leakage

So many things need to be considered when caring for your body after an ostomy procedure. While it can be bothersome or time consuming for the first few weeks, it’s better to do things right to ensure cleanliness and a healthy stoma rather than do things halfway and end up causing an infection.

One big thing people get wrong post-procedure is trying to patch up a leak or think it’s normal. If leaks happen, so many things could be the cause. More often than you would think it just means you didn’t seal the adhesive barrier properly, such as your skin not being flat. But also, improper fitting pouching systems can be the cause, meaning you’ll get leakage and irritate the skin around the stoma. If this is the case, you should be properly fitted by a healthcare professional.

In order to prevent leakage, your best bet is to have a correctly fitting system. Perhaps you’ve gone with a quality brand, like ConvaTec ostomy supplies. More often than not, it’s better to go over quality instead of something cheaper that will compromise your health and the health of your stoma.

Additionally, having certain accessories helps. You’ll also want to keep in mind that emptying your pouch before it reaches half full means that the pouch will sit properly at all times and not tug on the adhesive backing. Too often I hear of people letting the bags get all the way full, and this will cause problems in leakage. Why not empty it early and often if possible?

Another thing people don’t consider is gas. It’s a normal part of life, and it happens even with the best ConvaTec ostomy supplies attached. So if you have a lot of gas, opting for a vent or filter in your pouching system may be your best bet. Otherwise, you could take medications to reduce gas, but make sure to check with your qualified nurse before choosing a medication right for you.

Again, if you remember to do things the right way, you shouldn’t have any problems with leakage whatsoever. It seems like 90% of the time, leakage occurs because of improper sealing of the adhesive backing or just having an improper fitting system. If you can nail these two things down, you should encounter zero troubles with your stoma and your ostomy gear. Keep these two things in mind, take your time when changing it out, and make sure you properly clean everything and you’ll be good to go.

Packing Trips for Traveling with an Ostomy

If you’ve been looking to travel, but now you have an ostomy, you may wonder what you need to do when it comes to packing and supplies. Luckily, we’re got it covered.

Here, we’ll highlight all of the packing tips that work with your ostomy lifestyle.  It can be a bit hard, but here, we’ll tell you how to do it correctly.

First, you want to divide the items that you have, some to the carry-on, some to the checked luggage. That way, if one of them does end up being lost, you’ll still have supplies. It’s also good to pack double what you’ll need, and if you’re going on cruises, you might want to pack a bit more.

The second thing is to keep calm about this, and carry enough for the short-term in the carry-on.  you should have this within reach, and make sure to have them on hand for when you need these. You can put them in a separate travel kit to make it both fast, simple, and incredibly discreet too.

The next tip is to make sure that you have enough barriers cut ahead so that you can use them when you’re on the plane between where you begin, and your destination. Some airlines don’t allow scissors, even in checked bags, so you should make sure to check with the travel agency, and also with he airline to figure out what will work for you, and from there, you should be able to have a better, easier experience as well.

The next thing to do, is to have your supplies stay cool. When you travel by car in warm and humid climates, don’t keep the supplies in your trunk, or even the glove compartment. It’s best to have these in a cooler, and you should also read the storage guidelines. When you get to the destination, look for a spot that’s cool for the supplies, such as the closet in your bathroom near the floor if there is a way to keep the steam out.

Finally, you should make sure you keep this clean.  You can use normal items around your house to dispose of the older ostomy pouches, including toilet paper, and having that in your travel kit for wrapping your pouches is essential. You should pack some diaper disposal bags or freezer bags in order to discard this in a simple and discreet manner.  You can also pack some moist wipes in order to clean up accidents, or to also sanitize your hands if this isn’t available for you to have on hand.

It can be hard to pack for a trip when you’ve got ostomy bags, but there are a lot of things you can add to your own personal wellness and happiness, and you’ll be able to use this, especially when there isn’t much available, and there is a lot of benefits to be had when you are traveling. Traveling can be hard, and you have to take some special considerations, but with this, you’ll have some smart knowledge on how to travel, and it is also a big part of living with an ostomy as well.