FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What exactly are ostomy procedures?
Ostomy procedures are life-saving surgeries to remove part of or all of the natural digestive or urinary systems. Often given to patients who suffer from conditions like Crohn’s disease, diverticulitis, inflammatory bowel disease, colon cancer, and congenital defects, the procedure places an artificial stoma through the abdomen to filter bodily waste into a prosthetic pouch commonly known as an ostomy bag. While ostomies may take some getting used to for any patient, they are not known to reduce life expectancy and can greatly improve the quality of life for those who need them most.
How often should an ostomy bag be changed?
An ostomy bag or colostomy bag should be changed every five to eight days. In some cases, your bag may need to be changed more often; should you feel any irritation or leakage, change it immediately. Convenient 2-piece colostomy bag sets allow you to alternate between two pouches, washing one while the other is in use. Check your ostomy bag regularly to ensure it doesn’t overfill and replace as needed. Also be sure your bag and the surrounding area is clean to prevent infection and skin discomfort.
What does an ostomy bag look like?
An ostomy bag is a flat prosthetic pouch shaped like a lightbulb or a rectangle with rounded edges that attaches to an outlet, or stoma, through the abdomen. Ostomy care bags are either transparent for those who wish to monitor the contents or in a beige tone that tends to be less detectable under clothing. A colostomy bag is very similar in shape but it is attached directly to whatever is left of the intestines rather than to the abdomen.
What ostomy supplies will I absolutely need?
For proper ostomy care, there are several ostomy supplies you will need. These supplies can help make your ostomy bag more comfortable and more effective. Here are some of the supplies you’ll need:
- Ostomy belt: Helps prevent leaks and discomfort by keeping the ostomy bag where it belongs; and it can help patients feel more secure, too.
- Ostomy deodorants: Reduces the smell of bodily fluids that are filtered into the bag. They can also be used to thoroughly clean out your ostomy supplies to prevent bad odors and reduce the possibility of infection.
- Skin protective barrier: Placed between the skin and the ostomy or colostomy bag, barrier creams and ointments prevent irritation.
- Ostomy adhesive: Skin-friendly glue keeps the ostomy bag from sliding around on the abdomen. This is recommended particularly for patients with very oily skin who have a hard time securing their bags.
- Ostomy adhesive remover: Makes removal of adhesive simple and reduces irritation on the skin.
How does an ostomy bag work?
An ostomy bag collects bodily waste such as urine and feces through a stoma in the abdominal region when the natural digestive or urinary system is not functioning well or has been removed.
Can you swim with an ostomy bag?
Yes, you can safely swim, shower, and bathe yourself with an ostomy bag. The waterproof pouch is designed to help you continue to live your life as normally as possible. With a proper seal, your bag shouldn’t leak in the water. You can also use an ostomy belt to help secure your bag in place while swimming.
What is the difference between an ostomy and a colostomy?
An ostomy procedure is an overarching term used to describe the surgery performed to reroute the contents of the intestinal tract or urinary system when disrupted by disease or injury. Colostomies, ileostomies, and urostomies are all forms of ostomy surgery, each referring to the part of the body affected. ‘Colostomy’ refers to the redirection of the colon or large intestine through a stoma in the abdomen into a colostomy bag.
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