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The Importance of Hydration With an Ostomy

You may well get fed up with me talking about hydration but for those of us with an ileostomy, hydration and electrolyte balance is of high importance. Did you know that most new ostomates may end up being admitted back into hospital within the first 30 days of their surgery due to dehydration? 

Our large bowel normally deals with the absorption of fluids. Whether you have a temporary ileostomy or a permanent one, the large bowel can no longer absorb the liquid. In time our bodies and small bowel adapt to not having that anymore but that can take time and no one likes a bout of acute renal failure. 

Squiffy bloods

For me, the importance of hydration and straddling the electrolyte balance is something that I find incredibly difficult. My dietician has had me on fluid restrictions and double strength sachets to try and help improve my bloods, alas as of yet this still hasn’t worked and I am predicting another bout of acute renal failure and an extended hospital admission at some point. My bloods are now under weekly review and it is something that makes me cry. 

I have had at least one hospital admission on a yearly basis due to severe dehydration and acute renal failure. 

Straddling a fine line of doing as I am told but still finding my creatinine levels and my bile levels incredibly high and not within a normal range. My antibodies are also sky high but that is due to Crohn’s flare. 

I am doing my utmost best to not end up incarcerated by the NHS, so here’s hoping it all starts levelling out. I occasionally have to remember I am not superwoman and that I have to rest and seek treatment when needed. 

Symptoms of dehydration with an ostomy

Dehydration occurs when you pass more fluids out of your body than you take in.

What can cause dehydration?

  • An acute bout of diarrhoea caused by a tummy bug or food poisoning.
  • Drinking too much alcohol.
  • Hot and humid conditions which cause us to perspire more freely.

What are the signs you should be aware of?

  • An increased watery output from your stoma.
  • A decrease in the amount of urine you pass.
  • Very dark coloured urine.
  • Hangover-like symptoms such as headache, dry mouth, increased thirst, feeling light headed or dizziness.
  • Any combination of the above symptoms.

Hints and tips

  • Drink 1 litre of rehydration solution over 24 hours. Rehydration solutions are Dioralyte or Rehydrate powder dissolved in 1 litre of water in 24 hours. They are available from your pharmacy.
  • Or you can drink Isotonic ‘sport’ drinks like Lucozade Sport – 1 litre in 24 hours. If you are a diabetic use only the rehydration solutions from the pharmacist.
  • Take an extra teaspoon of salt in 24 hours. This can be achieved by putting more salt directly onto your food, or by adding extra salt to your cooking.
  • Bovril or Marmite can be made into a drink or spread on toast/bread.
  • Eat salted crisps or crackers with added salt such as Ritz.
  • Remember to continue to drink your normal daily amount of water, squash, fruit juices etc in addition to the rehydration solutions. However you may wish to cut down on tea & coffee as both these can increase dehydration.
  • Try not to eat & drink at the same time.
  • If you have been prescribed anti diarrhoeal medication remember to take it 45-60 minutes BEFORE food.
  • Inform your doctor if tablets or capsules are passing straight through into your pouch. Most antidiarrhoeal medicines are available in liquid form.
  • If you have any of the above symptoms and are feeling unwell, it is important to speak to your doctor or stoma care nurse without delay.

As always 

Many thanks for reading 

Louise Xx

Please note that this blog post is intended to give advice to ostomates. The information given is based on Louise’s personal experience and should not be taken as clinical advice. Please consult with your Stoma Care Nurse if you are in need of medical advice.

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Meet the blogger: Louise

Meet Louise! She’s a blogger and ambassador for Pelican and has been for the last 3 years