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Tips for Managing Your Stoma in the Summer Months 

It is the summer season and us British are not accustomed to high heat. Air conditioning is not installed in our houses, unless you live in my house, best adult purchase ever is the little waist height white stand alone air conditioning unit we managed to nab for £100 thanks to Facebook marketplace.

I have never been good with the heat, I would happily take the Antarctica over the British heatwave. However, I don’t live that far up north so I have had to come up with tips and tricks to help me navigate the hotter than Mordor temperature during the last heatwave.

Some of the groups are flooded with ostomates seeking advice due to melting baseplates, leaks and sore skin. I for one have experienced the loss of a bag in high heat but that was at the start of ostomy life with a stoma bag that I was trialling at the time (this was not a Pelican bag). 

The back end of summer

It is nearly the back end and beyond of summer and newspaper articles are promising another heatwave. We are coming into the last week’s of summer and into a hopefully mild autumn.

During the last heatwave I was seeing pleas from other ostomates with melting baseplates, leaks, bags literally dropping off is absolutely heartbreaking but this should not be happening, if you’re reading this and you’re experiencing the above mentioned I would advise seeing your stoma nurse and perhaps trying different samples of an appliance as the above mentioned should not be part of stoma life. 

Even in this heat my bag, the 1 piece ModaVi, lasts me 4 days, with no wear and tear with the baseplate. The only issue I have is removing the leftover residue from my barrier ring which is working like a dream in making my baseplate last 4 days. 

During the heat your stoma output may well change consistency, increase in output and leave you feeling worried. This is normal, an increase of fluids can cause your output to be more watery and increase the amount of output. 

Things that can help keep your baseplate where it meant to be 

  • Flange extenders these can be applied just under the edge of the baseplate or over the baseplate
  • Barrier rings –  if your output has increased or become more watery, this can eat away at the baseplate. Barrier rings protect the skin under the baseplate, therefore lessening the risk of sore macerated stoma site due to output seeping back under the baseplate

During the summer months make sure that even if your stoma behaves, you should have an emergency stoma kit and a spare change of clothes just in case. 

Staying hydrated

Staying hydrated is particularly hard for those of us with an ileostomy. Our large bowel was designed to absorb water, for those of us without one this can be tricky. I am really good at landing myself in hospital over the winter months (oh the irony) due to dehydration and a flushing ileostomy.

In the summer months, I am more careful and particularly diligent with my fluid intake. I landed myself in bed before thanks to heatstroke. That wasn’t pleasant, lesson learned. I had walked 20 K in less than 12 hours and silly me took the dog water bottle but not my own. 

The advice is to always drink plenty of water, but can I please add that plain water can cause more harm than good. My stoma nurse always said to add squash i.e. barley to my water to give your insides something to hold onto. 

Over time your body, your small intestine will adapt to absorb fluid but it is advised to always err on the side of caution, in the early days of stoma life I was on fluid restrictions of 1.5 litres to stop me from landing in hospital. This is due to lacking a small bowel as well as being down a large one. 

Things you can do to help stay hydrated

  • Fruit & salad can add to your fluid intake
  • Add squash to plain water
  • Avoid sugar-free flavoured waters. Check the ingredients as certain sweeteners cause flushing
  • Do use electrolyte tablets or sachets. Our body flushes them and they need replacing 
  • Take Immodium. This will help to thicken output and slow down your stoma
  • Codeine. This is prescribed to me as its the only thing that works to halt my stoma (this can only be done under GI and GP review and advice)
  • Tea and coffee are both a diuretic. Try to limit the amount consumed as this causes you to pee a lot
  • Buy a litre water bottle to help keep track of your fluid intake, too little can lead to dehydration, too much intake can cause flushing 
  • If you’re drinking alcohol please be cautious. I find that drinking a non-alcoholic drink between each alcohol-based beverage keeps me hydrated and also keeps away the hangover

All in all, please enjoy the summer months, they are for having fun days out, entertaining the kids and building upon a rather nice tan aided by factor 50 sunscreen. 

As always 

Many thanks for reading 

Louise Xx

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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