Frequently Asked Questions

Your questions on living with a stoma

FAQ TOPICS




There are a variety of different pouches available for different types of stomas and also to fit in with your output, lifestyle and personal preferences.  The main pouch types available are:

  • Closed – These pouches are non-drainable and are not re-usable. They are suitable for more formed motions (e.g. formed stools rather than looser stools or urine) and usually need to be replaced between one and three times a day.

    Find out more about NaturFit® closed colostomy pouches

 

  • Drainable – These pouches are drainable and suitable for less formed motions (e.g. loose stools or urine).  They have an open/close system at the bottom such as a clip, flap or tap to allow for emptying the pouch content and resealing again.  They need to be replaced less often than closed pouches, typically every one to three days.

    Find out more about NaturFit® open ileostomy pouches

 

  • Urostomy -These pouches have been developed specifically to collect urine after bladder surgery. They have an open/close system at the bottom such as a clip, flap or tap to allow for emptying the urine and resealing again.  They can also be fitted overnight to a drainage system.

    Find out more about NaturFit® urostomy pouches

 

  • One or two-piece systems – A one-piece system allows for a completely fresh pouch to be used each time, with the whole pouch being removed and disposed of after use. A two-piece system requires a base section/flange to stay  attached to the stoma with a separate pouch attached to this base/flange. The base plate is then changed much less regularly.

    All of the NaturFit® range are one-piece pouches, created for added comfort, flexibility and security.

Your stoma nurse is your first port of call with questions, but there are a range of organisations that can help:

 

Urostomy Association
The Urostomy Association was founded in 1971 to assist people facing or having undergone surgery leading to a Urostomy.

urostomyassociation.org.uk

 

IA
The Ileostomy and Internal Pouch Association (IA) is a charity supporting people living with an Ileostomy or internal pouch, with the primary aim of helping them to return to a full and active life as soon as possible after surgery.

iasupport.org

 

The Bladder & Bowel Community
The Bladder & Bowel Community has a range of information and advice.

www.bladderandbowel.org

 

Colostomy UK
Colostomy UK is a charity that supports people living with a stoma. They also run projects to empower ostomates to return to sports, hobbies and other interests and give them the confidence to take up fresh challenges.

www.colostomyuk.org

 

Crohn’s & Colitis UK
Crohn’s & Colitis UK aims to improve life for everyone affected by inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) – the main forms being Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis.

www.crohnsandcolitis.org.uk

There can be a number of reasons for leaking of the pouch.  The first thing to check is that the pouch has been fitted correctly and that there are no gaps where the pouch fits around your stoma.  If it doesn’t fit appropriately, it may be worth speaking to your stoma nurse who can offer some fitting advice and other suggestions on sizing or different pouches to try.

Another common reason for leaking can be due to something called pancaking.  Take a look at our FAQ ‘What is pancaking?‘ to find out more about what can be done to help resolve this.

No, different types of stomas can look and act differently.  Although it’s important to note that everyone’s stoma will look different, there can be some similarities depending on the stoma type:

Colostomies: These are usually on the left side of the abdomen and the output resembles a traditional bowel movement. The stoma’s output is usually between one and three times a day.

Ileostomies: These are usually on the right side of the abdomen and the output is often looser than a traditional bowel movement and can be fairly constant. The stoma’s output will need to be drained between three and six times a day.

Urostomies: These are usually on the right side of the abdomen with a small spout to help the urine leave the body. The stoma’s output is frequent throughout the day.

Although all stomas look different, it’s important to ensure it is healthy.  Speak to your stoma nurse or doctor if you are experiencing any problems such as:

  • Itching or soreness
  • Excessive bleeding of your stoma – it’s normal for your stoma to bleed slightly after being washed, but this should stop quickly
  • A bulge in the skin around your stoma
  • Skin colour changes from normal pink or red to pale, bluish-purple, or black
  • A rash, spots or blisters around the stoma
  • A wound or scratch on the peristomal skin

Everyone is different but as a general rule, it depends on the type of stoma you have:

Colostomies: usually between one and three times a day.
Ileostomies: frequently throughout the day.
Urostomies: frequently throughout the day.

No, a stoma should not hurt, however you may experience pain and discomfort in the surrounding area if a stool or urine has been in direct contact with the skin.

To find out more about how to manage and treat sore skin, please view our question ‘What can I do about sore skin?

This really depends on a number of factors, such as how much output you have, what type of stoma you have and what type of pouches you are using. For example, changing a drainable pouch will be less frequent than changing a closed pouch that will need replacing completely once used.

Your stoma nurse will be able to advise you based on your specific circumstances and then provide enough pouches for your particular needs.

This will depend on the type of stoma pouch you have.  Please check on the information leaflet (which was provided with your stoma pouches), with the manufacturer, or your stoma nurse, if you are unsure.

For the NaturFit® range, we recommend that our pouches are disposed of with the normal household waste and should not be flushed down the toilet.

This is down to personal preference but usually it would need replacing after each bowel movement.  For a drainable pouch, these will need to be replaced less frequently as the content can be drained into the toilet when required.

This is a personal choice and completely up to you.  Some healthcare professionals may advise keeping the pouch on for a bath if you have an Ileostomy, although it is fine to remove for a shower.

If you decide to keep it on:

  • Consider emptying or changing the pouch beforehand so that it does not float in the bath
  • If your pouch has a filter on it, add the sticky label (included with your pouch order) over the filter to stop water clogging it. Make sure this is then removed afterwards.

If you decide to remove it:

  • You may want to consider using a stoma cap which covers the stoma and can help protect from irritation.

Once you have recovered from your surgery and any discomfort and swelling has reduced, you can wear almost any types of clothing you like without anyone noticing. 

If you’re feeling self-conscious about people noticing under your clothing, here are some tips:

  • High waisted trousers and underwear are a good choice as they can sit above your pouch and will not restrict the output contents.
  • If you feel worried about your stoma, focus the attention away from your stomach area with a scarf or necklace. Pleats and wraps and even patterns and prints can also help disguise and camouflage your stomach area.
  • If a belt is causing issues due to it cutting through and restricting your pouch, consider replacing with braces.
  • Consider wearing darker colours around the waist area.

Ballooning is when wind gets trapped within your pouch, which makes it inflate (similar to a balloon).

Ballooning can be minimised by reducing any foods and drinks that cause gas.  Foods that can cause gas are unique to each individual but common ones include:

  • Some vegetables such as asparagus, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower and onions.
  • Corn
  • Alcohol, especially beer
  • Fizzy drinks
  • Dried beans and peas

You should also avoid:

  • Chewing gum
  • Drinking through a straw
  • Talking while eating
  • Smoking or chewing tobacco
  • Eating and drinking too quickly
  • Talking while eating
  • Skipping meals

Some pouches can also help reduce the problem. The NaturFit® Ileostomy and Colostomy pouches include integrated carbon filter for reduced ballooning and pancaking.

Pancaking occurs when the front and back of the plastic films that make up a pouch stick together. It prevents waste matter from entering the pouch, which can cause problems often leading to leakage and sore skin.

Some pouches can also help reduce the problem. The NaturFit® Ileostomy and Colostomy pouches include integrated carbon filter for reduced risk of pancaking. To help reduce the risk of pancaking, add a small amount of air into your pouch before application and then place the filter sticker (which is included in your NaturFit pack) over your filter to stop any more air coming in or out.  This will allow some of the air to stay in your pouch. Once your stoma has functioned and if you are not planning to replace the pouch immediately, you may want to consider discreetly removing the sticker from the pouch to encourage the stool to drop to the bottom (which will also help release any smells) and then reattaching a sticker.

 

Some stoma management products can also help:

DeoGel® is a high viscosity gel that helps prevent pouch layers sticking together to avoid the problem of pancaking.

ClearWay® and ClearWay® Mini have been designed to fit inside your pouch to keep the plastic films that form your pouch apart.

It’s useful to know that controlling the smells inside the pouch is a good first step.  For example, some foods seem to make smells worse and as we’re all affected differently by different foods, it’s worth working out which ones seem to affect you.  Equally eating specific foods can also help reduce odours with some people swearing by parsley!

There are some stoma management products that can also help:

LiftPlus® 360 Citrus a fresh citrus scent for added discretion

AbsorbaGel® contains absorbant granules that solidifies stoma content into a gel

DeoGel® contains enzyme deodoriser to reduce odour within the pouch

NaturCare® discreetly neutralises unpleasant odours

NaturCare® IPD neutralises odour, making the emptying or disposal of pouches less obtrusive

LiftPlus® Citrus Wipes a fresh citrus scent for added discretion

Firstly, it’s important to understand why your skin is sore and then the correct solution can be used.

  • Make sure your pouch fit is secure and snug around your stoma to prevent any leakages that could make your skin sore. If you are having problems with this, contact your stoma nurse who will be able to help you.  Specialist creams can also help: LaVera® can help to protect against harmful body waste and soothes and moisturises the skin and SkinSafe® is an effective barrier film that helps protect the skin and prevents skin stripping.
  • There may be some skin damage when removing the pouch. An adhesive remover can help here. LiftPlus® 360 and LiftPlus® 360 Citrus can help to reduce the pain associated with the removal of stoma pouch adhesives. LiftPlus® and LiftPlus® Citrus Wipes can be used to help remove any sticky residue left on the skin around a stoma.
  • Pancaking (when the plastic films that make up a pouch stick together and prevent waste from entering the pouch), can cause leakage and sore skin. DeoGel® is a high viscosity gel that helps prevent pouch layers sticking together to avoid the problem of pancaking. ClearWay® has been designed to fit inside your pouch to keep the plastic films that form your pouch apart.
  • As bodyweight can change over time, it’s important to occasionally re-check your weight as this may affect how your pouch sits around your stoma.
  • As your stoma shape and size can change over time, remeasure your stoma using the measuring guide that came with your pouch and discuss with your stoma nurse.

When removing the pouch, press the skin under the baseplate and gently remove the pouch by peeling the edges of the baseplate. You can also apply light pressure on your skin with your free hand to help removal.

If there is still some skin damage when reducing the pouch, an adhesive remover can help.

  • LiftPlus® 360 and LiftPlus® 360 Citrus can help to reduce the pain associated with the removal of stoma pouch adhesives.
  • LiftPlus® and LiftPlus® Citrus Wipes can be used to help remove any sticky residue left on the skin around a stoma.

Please note, the LiftPlus® and LiftPlus® 360 range should not be used on broken skin.

If you have any concerns regarding the severity of your skin soreness when removing your pouch, please consult your Stoma Care Nurse.

All of our Opus Healthcare stoma management products are available on prescription and can be ordered directly from your stoma pouch supplier or DAC (Dispensing Appliance Contractor).

Being interested and supportive is most definitely a good first step to take and will reassure your partner that you’re there for them.

There are a number of organisations and charities that also offer advice and support for partners as well as ostomates.  Take a look at our FAQ ‘Where can I get advice?‘ for information and links.

Once you have recovered from surgery and have the agreement from your doctor or stoma nurse, yes, you can play sports. 

Tips for getting back into sport include:

  • Gradually build up your strength and stamina.  For example, walk rather than run or gently kick a ball in the garden rather than getting stuck into a rough 5-a-side match.
  • Empty or replace your pouch before exercising.
  • Consider wearing a support belt.
  • As with all sports, keep hydrated.

Stoma bag and stoma pouches are the same and the names can be used interchangeably.

There are many different types of pouches (or bags) but essentially, they all collect waste (stools or urine) from a stoma through your abdomen area.

First of all, remember that this will be something you will notice far more than those around you.  If you’re close to your work colleagues and they know that you’ve had surgery, it may be something you can speak to them about.  If you don’t feel confident bringing it up, try using a stoma management product to help with smells and noises:

AbsorbaGel® is our fast-acting discharge solidifying agent, which solidifies stoma output into a gel and reduces pouch related odour and noise

LiftPlus® 360 Citrus is our 2-in-1 medical adhesive remover and deodorant

DeoGel®’s enzyme action helps to reduce pouch odour.

NaturCare® discreetly neutralises unpleasant odours.

NaturCare® IPD neutralises odour, making the emptying or disposal of pouches less obtrusive.

LiftPlus® Citrus Wipes has a fresh citrus scent for added discretion.

All ostomates are affected differently after surgery.  For some, it can be a great relief after years of pain and misery.  For others, it can leave them feeling low and alone.

It’s important to speak to someone about your problems and they can help you work through them and understand the source of the problem, such as social anxiety, a feeling of loss for your old body, worries about personal relationships, etc.

Your stoma nurse will be able to offer you support and help resolve any concerns you may have. Colostomy UK also provides a number of services for ostomates including a 24-hour helpline, a live chat online facility and a closed Facebook group. 

For more information, visit:
www.colostomyuk.org/support

It’s important to plan ahead when packing and always pack plenty of supplies in your main luggage, along with a travel pack for your hand luggage.  This travel pack could include:

  • Spare pouches. Consider the flight time, along with the airport waiting time, and calculate how many pouches you would normally need within this period and ensure you add at least this amount.  Colostomy UK recommends that you should consider taking all of your pouches in your hand luggage if possible, in case of lost luggage at your destination.
  • Disposal bags. You may want to ‘double bag’ any of the pouches to reduce odours in the plane bathroom bins.
  • Stoma management products. If you normally use wipes, sprays, etc, don’t forget to include these but always makes sure you do not exceed the maximum limit for liquids (100ml in the UK).
  • Travel certificate. Speak to your stoma nurse about a travel certificate which explains to travel authorities and their staff that you have a medical condition and wear a stoma.

Yes you can!

Some clothes may not feel comfortable straight after surgery, so give the healing process some time before you decide on which clothes you would like to wear.  If you are feeling self-conscious about your stoma pouch being noticeable under your clothing, read our FAQ ‘Will people notice I’m wearing a pouch?‘.

Try and relax and not let it worry you.  Perhaps calmly discuss the reasons why you had surgery and explain the positives of having a stoma to them e.g. perhaps you were in severe pain prior to your surgery and the stoma has given you the opportunity to live a fuller life.

Remember that they may need some time to process the information as they may not have heard about stomas before.  If it seems to be a big issue for them however, remember that it’s their problem and not yours! Colostomy UK has a number of male and female volunteers who are willing to talk in confidence about any concerns you may have. 

To arrange a call with them, visit:
www.colostomyuk.org/information/love-and-relationships/

It can depend on many things, but a stoma can be permanent or temporary and may depend on the reasons why you had a stoma and the type of stoma surgery you have received. As each person’s circumstances are unique to them, it’s important that you discuss this and any concerns you have with a healthcare professional such as your doctor or stoma nurse.

Stoma management products (sometimes called accessories) are designed to reduce common issues relating to stomas. Some common issues they can help to resolve include:

  • Helps protect and maintain healthy skin
  • Removes awkward adhesive and residue
  • Solidifies output and reduces noise and leakage
  • Manages any embarrassing malodour
  • Reduces pancaking issues

View the Opus Healthcare range of stoma management products.

Yes, it can do.  Some foods can cause more or less gas, consistency and stoma output than others, but this can be different for each individual.

Although it can vary for each individual, foods that are linked to loose stools include: 

  • Alcoholic drinks
  • Apple juice
  • Baked beans
  • Chocolate
  • Coffee
  • Dairy
  • Grape juice
  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Liquorice
  • Prune juice
  • Spiced foods
  • Tomatoes

Foods that can help thicken stools include:

  • Bananas
  • Cheese
  • Rice pudding
  • Marshmallows
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Peanut butter
  • Rice
  • Weak tea

Foods that can cause blockages include:

  • Celery
  • Coleslaw
  • Corn
  • Dried fruits
  • Meat casings
  • Mushrooms
  • Nuts
  • Peas
  • Pineapple
  • Popcorn
  • Salad greens
  • Seeds

If you feel that your diet is somehow negatively affecting your output, you may want to keep a food journal which may then help you understand if a certain food is causing the problem and help you discuss this with a healthcare professional.