Hydration with an ostomy is so important. In this blog post, we will be talking specifically about hydration with an ileostomy.

Someone who has an ileostomy can actually lose up to 3.5litres of fluid a day. That’s an extra 800-1000ml a day to the average person.

Hydration needs

It is important to remember that with or without an ostomy, everyone is different in terms of their hydration needs. The average person is advised to drink 6-8 glasses of fluid (1.5-2 litres) daily, with fluids that are not caffeine or alcohol based or high in sugar.

It is said that the average ileostomy patient needs much more than this, especially if traveling, exercising and in warmer weather.

Warmer weather 

In the warmer weather especially, hydration this year has felt much harder for me to keep on top of already and I’ve no idea why. I guess, like other things, this can be part of the unknown and unpredictable elements of ostomy life that you have to swing into action and try and get on top of when you can, using the knowledge that you have.

Even after nearly 11 years since my surgery, I am still learning new things and sometimes, for reasons I can’t find, well-rehearsed ostomy life tips occasionally decide they are not going to work. Thankfully, I’d say I have a good handle on ostomy life and recently, in particular, I have managed to get a better handle on my hydration, fingers crossed.

Dehydration symptoms

Often, when you’re feeling groggy or have headaches, this could actually be dehydration and often, we don’t recognise this.

Symptoms of dehydration include:

  • Headache
  • Thirst & dry mouth
  • Decreased urine output and dark urine
  • Cramps
  • Tiredness, especially more so than normal
  • Cramps in your body ie muscles
  • Nausea
  • Low blood pressure and dizziness
  • Decreased concentration

If you experience any of these, it’s definitely important to increase your fluid intake.

Severe dehydration 

I have actually had times where I’ve been unable to get on top of my hydration due to sickness and very high volumes of watery, ileostomy output and have required hospital treatment including intravenous (IV) fluids.

Symptoms of severe dehydration include:

  • No urine output at all
  • Very dry skin
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Rapid heartbeat and breathing
  • Sunken eyes
  • Fainting
  • Extreme tiredness/sleepiness and irritability
  • Confusion

Hydration tips with an ileostomy

  • Sip fluids instead of gulping them as to not encourage your body to just push fluid through
  • Eat before fluids to help your body absorb fluids properly
  • Drinking water is often not enough. Fluids with extra electrolytes are best.
  • Electrolyte based tablets that you dissolve in water, such as ORS hydration tablets can be a fantastic, easy way to manage hydration, especially on-the-go.
  • A lot of people are recommended sports drinks such as Lucozade Sport after stoma surgery, but note that these are also high in sugar and fat so may not be the best long term option, especially if you don’t want rotting teeth!

Amy @ibdwarriorprincess

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