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Ileostomy Helpful Hints

  • Your ileostomy is not sterile or infectious, normal hand washing hygiene is all that is required before and after emptying or changing your pouch. There is no need to use gloves or for disinfectant.
  • You may notice a little blood on the toilet paper when cleaning your ileostomy – this is normal.
  • Always ensure that you have a minimum of two weeks supply of your ileostomy products. If your stock is running low and a delivery is not due, please contact your Association (AUS) or STN (NZ).
  • Store your ileostomy products in a cool, dry place. If you become over stocked with supplies please contact your Association (AUS) or STN (NZ) to place a hold on further deliveries.
  • In case of an unexpected leak, always carry a spare pre-cut pouch in a disposable rubbish bag with you.  
  • If you visit a hospital out patient’s department or are admitted to hospital you MUST bring your ileostomy supplies with you. The department that you are visiting may not be able to supply your individual product.
  • You may need to shave around the stoma to improve adhesion of your pouch. When shaving protect the stoma from injury by placing the cardboard insert from a toilet roll over the stoma while shaving the skin.
  • It is normal to empty your ileostomy pouch 4-6 times per day or when it is approximately 1/3 full. If the pouch is allowed to get over full it will get heavy, drag on the skin and compromise the adhesion, potentially leading a leak potential.
  • In New Zealand, your initial community support will be from the District Nursing team who will be responsible for any wound care and assisting you to become competent at ileostomy care.
  • In Australia, support needed after discharge from hospital will be discussed while you are in hospital. Community nursing services may be arranged if this is required. You can make contact with your STN if you have specific stoma related issues.

Managing Oral Fluid Intake

  • Now that you have an ileostomy you are losing fluid into the pouch that your body would normally have re-absorbed. It is VITAL that you increase your oral fluid intake to avoid dehydration. You need to drink a minimum of 8 glasses of fluid per day. Reducing your fluid intake does not reduce your ileostomy output, it causes dehydration. Signs of dehydration are: dry mouth, headache, reduced urine output and nausea. 

Managing Excess Output

  • If your ileostomy pouch needs emptying more frequently than normal and the output is persistently liquid, please see your family doctor. Persistent high output can lead to dehydration requiring medical attention. Your family doctor may prescribe medications such as loperamide, codeine phosphate, diastop etc to slow your ileostomy output. Some foods such as pumpkin, potatoes, kumera, bread, yoghurt, rice, noodles can help to thicken and reduce the ileostomy output.

Managing Reduced Output

  • If your ileostomy output decreases in volume, stop completely and/or you have abdominal pain, nausea or vomiting you MUST see your family doctor or be assessed at the hospital. Stop food intake and continue to drink fluids if you are able.

To allow recovery you are strongly advised to refrain from heavy lifting for the first eight weeks after surgery. It is recommended that you discuss the value of using a support garment with your STN.