When You Have an Ileostomy

By YourCareEverywhere @YourCareE
May 12, 2017

During an ileostomy, healthcare providers either remove or disconnect your colon (large intestine) and sometimes part of the last section of your ileum.

During an ileostomy, healthcare providers either remove or disconnect your colon (large intestine), and sometimes part of the last section of your ileum (last section of your small intestine). If your colon or ileum is diseased, particularly if you have colon cancer, healthcare providers may remove them. If they are injured, healthcare providers may disconnect them for a short time, while they heal. Your healthcare provider will bring the end of the ileum through your abdominal wall. This makes an opening, called a stoma, for stool and mucus to pass out of the body. 


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Ostomy care

With surgery for colon cancer, an ostomy may connect either the small or the large intestine to the surface of your body. The opening is called a stoma. Ostomy surgery is a life-altering event; however, most people can resume daily activities. After colostomy or ileostomy, you no longer have control over bowel movements. Discharge from the stoma enters a pouch system.

Selecting your pouch

After an ileostomy, stool is collected in a pouch that attaches to your body around the stoma. An adhesive skin barrier holds the pouch in place and keeps stool from leaking onto the skin. Most pouches are made of lightweight, odor-proof plastic. They lie flat against the body so they don’t show or make noise.

Changing your pouch

Stool starts to pass from the stoma soon after surgery. At first, a nurse will change your pouch. But you’ll need to learn how to change it yourself before you go home. You will need to change your pouch once or twice a week. You will empty it more often.

Managing your nutrition after an ileostomy

You don’t have to eat a special diet just because you’ve had an ileostomy. Most foods, chewed well and eaten slowly, won’t give you problems — unless they did before. But you may need to be more aware of foods that make your stool more watery than normal and foods that cause gas or odor. You also need plenty of fluids and vitamins. 

If you have a food blockage

After an ileostomy, it may be harder to digest foods that are high in fiber, such as raw vegetables, popcorn, and nuts. Eaten in large amounts, these foods can clump together. Then they get stuck in your small intestine, causing a blockage. 


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March 18, 2020