After your ileostomy surgery, you’ll need to know how to change your ostomy pouch. Here are some tips to make the process easier.
Life after ileostomy surgery often means freedom from the painful symptoms of Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, or other gastrointestinal conditions. However, it also means adjusting to living with your ostomy pouch, including how to empty the pouch on a daily basis.
Before and immediately after your surgery, your physician and ostomy nurse will instruct you on the proper way to empty your pouch so you can do it on your own at home. Although it may seem overwhelming at first, you’ll find it gets easier with practice. Once you recover, you can go back to the same activities you enjoyed before your surgery.
Each ostomy pouch is different, but these instructions apply to most systems. Be sure to empty the bag when it’s a third to half full to avoid any leaks or irritation of the skin, and follow these steps:
How often you need to empty your bag depends on the type of ileostomy you’ve had and what you’ve eaten that day. Following your surgery, it’s normal for your output to be watery. Talk to your doctor or ostomy nurse about nutritional tips to prevent frequent liquidity stools and gas.
After emptying the pouch, you can add either a liquid or tablet deodorant to the bottom of the bag to minimize odors. Some deodorants act as lubricants to make emptying the bag smoother. You can also spray the bathroom with an air freshener to neutralize foul smells.
When you empty your pouch, check for any tears or holes in it that could lead to leaks. Always carry extra supplies so you’ll be ready to change your ostomy pouch and wafer if there is any damage.
Depending on the type of ostomy bag you have, you’ll need to change your pouch and wafer every day, every three days, or once a week. Although most pouches are disposable, some are reusable. If you have a reusable bag, fill the pouch with soap and water after you drain it. Swirl the water around in the bag, empty it, and let it dry before reattaching to the wafer. You may want to cover the stoma with another bag while the pouch dries to catch any fecal discharge.
Living with an ileostomy doesn’t have to change your lifestyle if you know how to care for your stoma and pouch. Fortunately, the healthcare professionals at the Center for Ileostomy Surgery can help you adjust to day-to-day life with your ostomy bag.
Dr. Don Schiller of the Center for Ileostomy Surgery is an experienced surgeon who has helped hundreds of patients recover from abdominal surgery. He and his staff will guide you through the procedure and recovery so you can get back to life without the pain and discomfort of gastrointestinal illness. Contact us today for a consultation.