Ileostomy - Recommendations 

Recommendations 

The following recommendations may help to self-treat or prevent issues that can arise after having an ileostomy.

Diet

It's a good idea to eat a low-fibre diet for the first few months after your operation. This is because the surgery causes your bowels to swell, making digesting fibre difficult.

Once the swelling has subsided (usually after eight weeks) you can resume a normal diet. You may need to take vitamin supplements until then.

Try to introduce new food to your diet slowly, at the rate of one type of food each day. This will allow you to judge the effects of the food on your digestive system. You may find it useful to keep a "food diary" so you can keep a record of the food that you have eaten, and how you feel afterwards.

Eat a healthy, balanced diet that includes plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables (at least five portions a day) and whole grains. Many people with an ileostomy find it best to avoid eating nuts, because they can cause irritation.

Fluid replacement

If you no longer have a colon, you are at greater risk from dehydration. This is because one of the functions of the colon is to re-absorb water and minerals (sodium and potassium) back into the body. Therefore, it is important to drink plenty of water particularly in hot weather, or if you are more active than normal.

Sachets of fluid replacement solutions are available over-the-counter (OTC) from pharmacies, and can be taken when you feel dehydrated.

Flatulence (gas)

In the first few weeks after surgery, you may experience a lot of flatulence (gas). This is harmless, but it can be embarrassing and uncomfortable. Don't worry though, as the gas should subside as your bowels become less inflamed (swollen).

Not eating foods that cause gas can help. These include beans, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, onions and eggs. Fizzy drinks and beer also cause gas. Don't skip meals to try to prevent gas because it will make the problem worse.

Some people find eating six small meals a day, rather than three main meals, helps to reduce flatulence. If the problem persists, your GP or stoma nurse should be able to recommend a medicine that can help to reduce gas.

Smell

Many people worry their external bag will smell. This is unlikely if you use an odour-resistant system and empty the bag regularly. Special liquids and tablets are available to place in your bag to reduce odour. Eating yoghurt and buttermilk can also help.

Medication

Many medicines are designed to dissolve slowly in your digestive system. Therefore, if your colon is removed and you are taking medication, it may not be as effective because rather than staying in your system, it could come straight out into your bag.

Let your pharmacist know about your stoma so that they can recommend an alternative type of medicine, such as an uncoated pill, powder or liquid.

Anal soreness

Anal soreness or itchiness is quite common in people with an ileo-anal pouch. Having regular baths should help to relieve this.

Using a skin protection cream is also recommended. Your GP will be able to advise about the best cream for you. Use a small amount of cream every time you empty your pouch.


Page last reviewed: 09/03/2012

Next review due: 09/03/2014

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Flatulence

Self-help tips and treatments for excessive flatulence, whether from bloating, indigestion or constipation