A colostomy is an artificial opening made on the surface of the front abdominal wall. This opening is connected with the colon and allows emptying of its content. The stool leaves through the stoma (the very opening on the abdominal wall) and is collected in a specially designed bags (pouches). These bags are changeable and watertight.
A colostomy may be temporary or permanent. The opening is created during the surgery for colorectal cancer, diverticular disease and even in patients operated due to Crohn's disease. No matter what is the reason that has led to creation of this artificial opening, it is essential to be familiar with proper care of the stoma and routine actions when it comes to changing pouches (bags).
Colostomy CareAfter being taught how to apply the pouching system patients with colostomy must be properly educated about all the measures of proper care of the stoma.
It is essential to take good care of the skin around the stoma as it may get easily irritated. In case of skin irritation, the affected area can be covered with powder. The skin surrounding the stoma may also change its color. If there is such change or a person notices that the skin irritation progresses, he/ she is due to consult a well experienced physician. In order to prevent skin irritation patients are supposed to use the right size pouch and skin barrier opening. In case the opening is way too small, there is chance of cutting the stoma and injuring the colon. On the other hand, if the opening is too large this may cause leakage and additional problems.
Apart from skin irritation and maintaining proper hygiene of the stoma, patients must also pay close attention to filling of the pouch. Namely, the bag may fill much faster because it is generally not large and the length of the colon may have been significantly reduced during the surgery so it cannot hold too much feces. This is why regular change of pouches is a must.
Cleaning of the stoma is of major importance. However, one should never be brusque when cleaning the stoma and changing pouches. This can cause rupture or injury of the stoma. The skin around the stoma is best cleaned with water and if there is need, one may also use a soap. But even if soaps are used, it is important to rinse the area well and pat it dry before putting a new bag.
Some patients have to deal with unpleasant odor coming from the pouch. They can cope with the issue with proper diet. For example, intake of foods such as eggs, cabbage, cheese and dairy products, cucumber, onion, garlic, fish and coffee should be limited if not completely eliminated. It is also possible to eat some of the mentioned foods and prevent unpleasant odor with odor resistant pouches which are more expensive but quite efficient. Consulting the Doctor
A person with colostomy is due to consult his/her physician in case the stoma becomes purple, black or white, if the person is suffering from cramps that last more than 6 hours and if there is severe watery discharge from the stoma. Even no output from the stoma that lasts for 3 days must be reported. Bleeding from the stoma, swelling of the surrounding skin, intensive skin irritation, deep skin ulcers as well as abdominal distension are several more reasons for one to consult the doctor.