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What if you get constipation?

What is constipation?

Constipation causes your colostomy to work less frequently than usual, and your stoma output becomes drier and harder.

What can cause colostomy constipation?

  • Medication, particularly pain relief containing morphine or codeine, antidepressants, iron supplements, calcium supplements, indigestion remedies and water tablets are amongst the most common culprits.
  • Inadequate fluid intake or dehydration.
  • Inadequate amounts of natural soluble fibre in your diet.
  • Change of routine or eating pattern.
  • Anxiety or stress.
  • Lack of exercise.

Hints and tips

  • Do not stop taking your prescribed medication.
  • Increase your fluid intake, particularly water and pure fruit juice, especially during hot weather and after exercise.
  • Increase your intake of natural soluble fibre such as fresh fruit, vegetables oats, wheat or cereal.
  • Liquorice from health food shops, dark chocolate and root ginger are just a few suggestions that can benefit some people.
  • Trial and error, try to find out what works for you.
  • Take regular meals.
  • Try to avoid stress, or develop ways of coping with stress and anxiety.
  • Inactivity after illness or surgery can add to the problem of constipation.
  • Do not take laxatives or herbal remedies without first seeking professional advice.
  • Constipation should never be ignored, as it can be a contributory factor in the development of a parastomal hernia.

Sometimes very watery stools without any solid waste can be a symptom of constipation. If there is no output from your colostomy for 2-3 days or if you feel unwell, speak to your doctor or stoma care nurse.

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