Ostomy & A Nutritional Diet – Know Your Guts!

Most folks generally don’t think too much about what/how they eat and how it affects their waste (short of feeling ill or diarrhea). The reasons for this are simple – it’s generally a minor duty or inconvenience in a typical day, just like sleeping or eating or personal hygiene.

When it comes to what foods to eat, one thing is certain: nobody understands how foods affect digestion or how food travels through the body like an Ostomate does.

That’s because for an ostomate, there is no control when a pouch fills with waste and gas without the intelligent management of diet & nutrition. With this in mind, one needs to consider questions about their diet so pouching needs become more predictable and therefore can be handled with optimal health and minimal complications: What makes things move too quickly? What stops things from moving (food blockages)? Are there foods that can’t be digested properly? What causes pouch output to be more liquid or more solid? Which foods create more odors? Which foods produce more gas?

Being able to answer these questions for yourself will make life much easier!

Basic tips about diet and nutrition for ostomy:

Chew Yer Food – It helps digestion and slows your eating down a bit. It’s a good general diet tip anyway; you’ll know more reliably when you’re full so you don’t overeat and swallow less gas-producing air. Like your mother always aid: Don’t talk with your mouth full. You will also have less likely chances for intestinal blockages around the stoma.

Eat Adequate Portions and Do It Often – Avoid overeating in one sitting and avoid skipping meals, both of these activites can result in producing excess gas.

Stay In Shape – Stay in shape and you’ll avoid a lot of stoma problems. Being overweight puts unnecessary pressure on your guts and your stoma.

Drink Lots of Fluids – Fluid loss is especially common in those who have lost much of their large intestine, so drink lots of water.

Make Scheduled Alterations to Diet – When you find foods you can digest well, test trying different types of foods and adding them to your diet one at a time. This way you’ll notice the changes that particular food can cause. Which leads into the next tip…

Monitor Movement – Keep a log of what you eat and when, and then make a note of the condition of your stoma and pouch output. This way you can start to see patterns and determine the best diets with all the foods you like. If you notice a change in pouch output, try a food several times to be sure its a consistent change and you’ll have a pretty good idea of how it affects you.

Foods to Avoid – Food Blockages

Generally it’s accepted that fiber aids digestion, but especially with illeostomy (small intestine), undigested fiberous foods can cause complications and food blockages. So can not checking your food enough. (See the tips above).

Some examples of foods that can cause these blockages are: corn, dried fruit, hotdogs/sausages, pineapple, skins from fruits and vegetables. If you or your child experiences belly cramps, watery stool, a swollen stoma, or nausea it could be a sign of food blockage, consult a nurse and physician.

Foods to Avoid – Odors

Ostomy odor is created by bacteria breaking down certain foods, turning it into odorous waste and also sometimes creating odorous gases. This gas, like the stool, also makes it way into a pouch, filling it with air that must be released to prevent pressure from developing a leak, or worse, a pouch blowout.

While some pouches have integrated filters or can have a filter added to them, it is also a good idea to avoid odor-causing and gas-forming foods. Below are some examples of foods that affect most individuals:

Some foods that do cause odors:
Asparagus, coffee, garlic, prunes, beans, cucumbers, green peppers, radishes, brussel sprouts, eggs, milk, turnips, cabbage, fish, onions, vitamins/certain drugs, alcoholic beverages.

Some foods that help decrease odors:
Buttermilk, parsley, yogurt, cranberry juice, spinach.

Some foods that produce more gas:
Apples, soda, dairy products, onions, asparagus, drinking straws & chewing gum (you’ll swallow more air), melons, beans, mushrooms, corn, broccoli, spinach, nuts, cabbage.

One final note about digestive odors: Another product that may help with gas and odors are Devrom Tablets. Taken up to four times daily, they help control the odors of digestive gases with bismuth subgallate. This is, of course, not meant as a replacement to intelligent dieting, but if certain foods you enjoy make you gassy then a couple of Devrom tablets right before you eat should do the trick.

More Food for Thought – Thickening and Thinning

Some foods will also change the consistency of the stool, and depending on the type and adhesion of a skin barrier you’re using, more liquid can harm the adhesion of the barrier and cause it to leak, never a pleasant experience! Here are some examples of foods, take note how they affect you:

Some foods that will thicken pouch output:
Yogurt, bananas, milk (preferably boiled), creamy peanut butter, breads, cheeses, pastas, potatoes, rice.

Some foods that thin pouch output:
Fruits and fruit juices, chocolate, green beans

When Diarrhea Happens

Sometimes diarrhea happens, which for anyone results in fluid loss and loss of two essential minerals needed for good health: potassium and sodium. Dehydration is always a concern with diarrhea for anyone, and fluid retention can be even more serious for an Ostomy patient. When diarrhea happens, it’s good to get plenty of fluids along with potassium and sodium to stay healthy, so the foods below should be considered:

Some more foods high in potassium:
Milk, Chicken, beef, fish, pork, turkey, lima beans, V8 Juice, apricots, bananas, avocado, tomato juice, potatoes, broccoli, grapefruit juice, oranges and orange juice, watermelon, strawberries.

Foods high in salt:
Salt is definietly not hard to find. Simple table salt will get you sodium, along with most pre-packaged foods, canned soups, and seasonings.

This guide from the University of Pittsburg Medical Center (and the source for some of the data in this article) gives many suggestions on foods that are safe for those with diarrhea and ostomy, along with a beverage recipe to help keep you hydrated and make sure you’re not losing potassium and sodium: http://www.upmc.com/HealthAtoZ/patienteducation/Documents/OstomyNutrition.pdf

Here’s the recipe:

  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 teaspoons corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 6-oz can of frozen orange juice
  • Enough water to make 1 quart of beverage.

Stay Informed and Stay Healthy!

I suggest reading this thorough and useful guide on ostomy and nutrition from UOAA as well. It’s a PDF you access and even save to your computer for reference:

The new online Hollister product guide on Ostomy Guide

When it comes to Ostomy Supplies there is an overwhelming number of options and sizes, patented technologies and brand names. Then you further add to the complexity with HCPCS codes, pouch colors & material selections. Add all of these variations up and you end up with hundreds of product codes to choose from in lists and catalogs overwhelming for consumers, physicians, and nurses.

So anyway I’ve made it a goal of mine to put this information online the best I can in an organized format similar to a tabbed product catalog to make it convenient to find the correct features and codes online. Since Hollister is one of the bigger brand names in Ostomy, I started by doing a product catalog for their products first. Even doing this, there is still no reference point on prices for any of these products, so I’ve linked many of the product codes to the correct product on NextraHealth.com. You can see the new Hollister ostomy catalog here.

I found building this with tabbed navigation and tiny thumbnails to be useful for my own personal reference and I felt other people may find it useful, so it really made the most sense to just put it online.

Of course, if you do find it useful, your feedback would be greatly appreciated, and I’ll add catalogs for the other brands of Ostomy supplies.

See the Hollister Ostomy Product Catalog.

Nadine Coyle from Girls Aloud Stands Up to the Negative Stigmas of Ostomy

After all the controversy in the Ostomy community from the conclusion of Grey’s Anatomy, someone far different in the Entertainment industry has popped up on the radar about Ostomy.

“Girls Aloud” is something I’ve never heard of before, but it’s an English/Irish girl band who formed on a British TV show called Popstars: The Rivals, which doesn’t seem too far different from “American Idol”.

Nadine CoyleOne of their singers, Nadine Coyle, has a unique connection to Ostomy, and she intends to do something to combat the negative stigma surrounding Ostomy surgery, and the life-changing decisions involved with choosing to have Ostomy surgery.

According to the BBC article, Nadine’s close friend, a hair stylist, had Ostomy surgery in January, bring the negative stigma of the surgery to her attention.

Nadine has teamed up with Vanilla Blush, founded by Ostomate Nicola Dames who designs and models lingerie for women with stomas. Vanilla Blush aims to end the negative stigmas that women with ostomy surgery can’t be sexy or comfortable in their own skin! A quote from Nadine sums it up:

“I was amazed at the negative connotations that surrounds people with a stoma and also shocked at the lack of exposure in the mainstream media. This is one taboo which I am right on board in helping to smash.”

Nadine will be a celebrity spokesperson for Vanilla Blush and will appear in a nursing conference in Arizona. Here is her Twitter page.

Bowel Disease? Schmowel Disease. – No Guts Know Glory Climbs Mount Everest

A follow up from an earlier post about the No Guts Know Glory Mt. Everest Climb – a tired but successful group of Ostomate climbers have just reached the summit of Everest! Check out the video:

The amount of athleticism, strength and endurance needed to climb this enormous mountain is an incredible feat for any human being. Congrats to the whole team for their amazing achievements and the message it stands for – ostomy saves lives and does not hold one back from achieving their full potential!

With a Colostomy Bag, Elvis Would Still Be Alive Today

Reading news this week I found an article about Elvis Presley’s health condition before his death. His friend and physician, Dr. George Nichopoulos, wrote a new book called “The King and Dr. Nick” and discusses Elvis’s hereditary bowel paralysis.

Elvis was always believed to die of a heart attack, likely from the buffet of drugs he was taking, but his doctor of 12 years leading up to his death now believes with new research it was actually chronic constipation that killed him in the end, brought on by bowel disease, and even his bloated appearance was because of his bowel condition.

Elvis Presley ColostomyWhile treatment has probably changed since for Elvis’s death in the 1970’s, bowel paralysis was treated with a colostomy back then. His digestive system was a real mess, according to the autopsy when he died, and it’s unfortunate he was too proud to succumb to a pouch to live (a lot) longer than he did. Because the nature of his illness was rather embarrassing and Elvis was too proud, he didn’t get the surgery.

Even the King of Rock and Roll was not impervious to bowel disease.  It can happen to anyone, and when it does, we’re faced with the decision of surgery or illness.   So if all the secrets about Elvis are now out of the bag, and people finally agree that he is indeed dead, there is one final lesson we can learn from the King of Rock and Roll:  Never be too proud to admit when we’re sick.

Hollister’s Guide for Routine Care Of Your Ostomy

Just wanted to share this two page flier about Ostomy from Hollister that came across my radar last week. It’s well assembled and gives some basic guidelines to managing and caring for an Ostomy. Among them are tips for routine pouch care, skin care, some common terms and general maintenance. Here are a few:

  • Prepare your new pouching system before you remove your used pouch.
  • The best time for a routine pouching system change is in the morning before you have had anything to eat or drink.
  • If you wear a two-piece pouching system, try placing the skin barrier on your body in a diamond shape for a smoother fit.
  • If soap is needed, use a mild soap without lotions or creams that may leave a residue or film on your skin. This can interfere with the adhesive.
  • Things NOT recommended for routine skin care around your stoma: soap with lotions creams, lotions, powders, baby wipes, isopropyl alcohol, steroidal medications or ointments.
  • Pouch wear time may decrease during warmer seasons when you are perspiring more or during times of increased activity. This is normal, so anticipate and plan appropriately.

So yeah, it’s basic, but sometimes its better that way. 🙂

Here’s the flier PDF, I’m going to keep this one handy in our links as well.

UOAA Northwest Regional Conference Announced

United Ostomy Association of America announced the Northwest Regional Conference this year. Here are some details:

WHEN: August 13 – 15, 2010

WHERE: La Quinta Inn & Suites
1425 E. 27th Street
Tacoma, WA 98421

$45 registration fee and $30 for dinner. Discount hotel rates for attendees at $89/room. (Mention UOAA for the price.)

Event Schedule
FRIDAY evening: Social mixer – 6 pm
SATURDAY: Sign-in 8 to 9 am, Program from 9am – 4pm, Dinner at 6pm.
SUNDAY: Leadership meeting 8 am to noon

The conference flier and registration sheet can be found here.

For more upcoming UOAA events, see their events page.

The Best Colostomy and Illeostomy Supplies for Different Lifestyles (aka: A Stoma Doesn’t Mean the End of Life as you Know It)

Colostomy surgery isn’t taken lightly. Bad news about health, combined with frightening surgery, a stoma, and a pile of necessary medical equipment for daily life is nothing taken lightly. It is a life-changing event that at times is cumbersome, embarrassing and difficult.

Those of us who have experienced the pain and suffering of colon cancer, Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis or other digestive diseases understand without question a Stoma is preferred over illness, and wearing ostomy appliances are an easy exchange to a potentially fatal health condition.

Whether need for an ostomy is temporary or permanent, there are thousands of ostomates living out their lives happily, many with little thought of their Stoma or the extra work required to manage ostomy appliances every day. And thanks to modern ostomy products, everyone can go about their daily business with less thought of their stoma and more about living life.

Below are links to a series of articles based on lifestyle and situations where specific types of ostomy supplies come in handy.

Ostomy Supplies for Active People
Ostomy Supplies for Intimacy
Ostomy Supplies for Overweight People
Ostomy Supplies for Children and Pediatrics
Ostomy Supplies for Cleanliness and Odor Preventions
Interesting Ostomy Products You Haven’t Seen Before

Useful Ostomy Supplies for Intimacy

Mini-Pouches – Mini-pouches won’t hold much so you don’t wear them long. Mini-pouches are far smaller closed pouches perfect for special occasions when an ostomy appliance is needed that stays out of the way and is far less noticeable than standard or large pouches. Generally, these small pouches are often about half the size of a typical ostomy pouch. Try the Esteem mini pouches from Convatec or the Premier closed mini pouch from Hollister.

Pouch Covers – For those who want something even more discreet than just a mini-pouch, there are pouch covers such as My Heart Ties that provided a little extra discreetness for self-confidence and intimacy.

American Nursing Association Recognizes Nurses Specializing in Wound, Ostomy, and Continence

Great news in nursing!  The American Nurses Association (ANA) now formally recognizes wound, ostomy, and continence nursing as a specialty.

Ostomy and continence hold an important place in the nursing practice and the ANA will apply their strict standards and procedures in nursing to this specific and essential field of nursing care.

This change will help ensure public safety and ongoing research in the nursing care of Ostomy patients, helping to provide the best clinical research, treatments, and education of ostomy.

The Wound, Ostomy, and Continence Nursing Society (WOCN) was founded in 1968 and now represents 4,200 experts in the treatment and care of patients and believe this recognition by the ANA is a milestone for this specialty in health care.

This recognition is a big move in the advancement of treatment!

Here’s the press release announcement: