The output from your ileostomy will vary from watery to toothpaste consistency, but the thicker it is the less likely you will have problems. When your output is very watery you may not be absorbing enough nutrients from food and fluid you consume, which can lead to dehydration and malnutrition. Leakage and skin problems can also occur more easily if the output is very watery all the time. It is important in the early days of having an ileostomy to keep in touch with your Stomal Therapy Nurse as they can help you adjust to your new digestive system. You will have seen a dietitian in hospital and been given some extra advice on eating and drinking. Some helpful hints to get into a healthy routine include:
- Eat small and frequent meals and snacks (make them nutritious too).
- Chew food well.
- Try to separate food and fluid from each other. Drink fluids 30 minutes before you eat and then not for an hour after you eat. This will allow for greater absorption as you digest food, meaning time for the food to go through your small intestine will be longer and your output will be thicker.
- Include starchy foods with every meal, things like white bread, pasta, rice, pretzels, potato, marshmallows, bananas or smooth peanut butter as they will help thicken your output.
- Avoid foods and fluids that you know cause more watery output. You will notice more and more as you get used to your ileostomy that some things just don’t sit well with your gut.
If you continue to have major problems with your output being too watery, especially if you are also feeling unwell, extra tired or nauseous, then you should see your doctor immediately. If you are experiencing issues with your stoma pouch leaking then arrange a visit to your Stomal Therapy Nurse as soon as possible. Your skin may become red, sore and irritated quickly if leakages are not managed.