Ileostomy surgery brings a lifestyle change. At first, this change may seem like a disability, but as you continue to learn, you will feel more in control. Before surgery, you are going to have to prepare your mind to anticipate the outcome after the procedure. A positive mindset will help you to adapt to your ileostomy more quickly.
In this article, we will discuss how to live a worry-free life with an ileostomy.
Choosing the right type of ostomy bag is the first step towards managing your ileostomy. This bag will collect waste materials. You will need to empty the bag when it is full. Your stoma will not have any sphincters, meaning that you won’t have any control over your bowel movements. Wearing an ostomy bag the entire time and avoiding it from getting full is your only chance at managing stool evacuations.
The type of bag
An ileostomy generally requires you to wear a drainable ostomy pouch the entire time. This bag is usually transparent to allow nurses to monitor your stoma.
During the first couple of days, nurses will empty the ostomy pouch for you. You will need to do it yourself when the influence of the anesthesia wears off. During the first few days, there will be drips and tubings attached to your body. Don’t be alarmed due to that, as it is part of standard procedure. The doctor will remove those when appropriate.
When does an ileostomy start functioning?
Your stoma will remain inactive for a couple of days after surgery. When it starts working, the output will be watery and yellow. The consistency will start thickening to become porridge-like when you start eating. Because there will be no large bowel, the stool consistency will remain like this for the rest of your life or until you go for the ostomy reversal. During the first few days after surgery, your stoma might produce noisy winds. These winds decrease with time.
Changing the ileostomy bag
You will need to wear a drainable ostomy bag to manage your ileostomy. A drainable ostomy bag allows you to drain waste materials whenever you want. In the starting days, you may have to empty your ileostomy bag 6-8 times a day. The frequency will reduce over time with your bowel recovering from surgery.
You will need to make sure that you are emptying your ostomy pouch regularly. Do not let the bag to become too full. Empty it when it is one-third to half full.
Make sure to change your ostomy bag every 2-3 days. It generally depends on the capability of your ostomy bag to stay in place. Your peristomal skin also has a key role in this regard. If the peristomal skin is healthy, the ostomy pouch can remain in place for more than three days. Even if you do not feel like needing to remove your ostomy pouch, make sure to replace it every three days to avoid any risk of complications.
You may want to discuss pouching options with your doctor or ostomy care nurse to have proper guidance in this regard. They will also suggest products and accessories if you have any problem managing your ileostomy.