Hydration with a stoma

We hear more and more about global warming these days and the effect that climate change is having on our weather. The conditions throughout most of August, not least the recent heat wave, has shown us what we are probably going to have to get used to in the future, soaring temperatures and people struggling to cope with them. We have all been reminded in the media about the importance of drinking plenty of fluids as dehydration can be so dangerous for our health. But having an ileostomy, or indeed any IBD conditions, in this hot weather can really exacerbate the problem.

My experience with dehydration 

Those of us with an ileostomy (i.e having no colon to absorb fluid and thus allowing reabsorption into the body), are more prone to dehydration because fluids are flushed straight through our stomata leading to rapid filling and refilling of a pouch or bag. Driving a bus in hot weather is actually like driving a mobile greenhouse and I take my own hydration very seriously. An incident occurred, not long after I started working for First Cymru, where I became severely dehydrated meant that I collapsed after a shift, and then had to be taken into hospital where I was placed on a drip to get fluids into me more quickly. I learned a valuable lesson and have always ensured that I have plenty of drinks with me on any day, whether I’m at work or not.

So what are the common tell-tale signs of dehydration?

For me these include:

  • Headache
  • Tiredness/ fatigue
  • Dry mouth
  • Stomach and leg cramps
  • Muscle weakness
  • Urinating less often/ dark urine
  • Lack of concentration

If I start to feel any of these things, I make sure I drink something as soon as I can; I also make sure I have a bag of crisps or similar snack handy as it isn’t just fluids that we lose, its the salts that need replacing too. I was reminded of the advice I was given after my operation which was  to add extra salt to meals and eat salty snacks regularly.  I often drink sports drinks that  contain electrolytes to regulate bodily hydration; I usually have some Dioralyte sachets that help with this too but it is easy enough to mix up a DIY solution to keep at home.

Recipe: Mix 6 level teaspoons of sugar, 1/2 level teaspoon salt into 1 litre of cooled, boiled water.

One other thing to note; having experienced some persistent abdominal pains I worked out that this appeared to be linked to drinking squash with ‘no added sugar’ and which used artificial sweetener. After doing some reading up on this, I found that it is recommended to limit consumption of drinks with artificial colours, sweeteners and caffeine if you are rehydrating,  so I have taken this on board making up High Juice squash, diluting it well, to take to work and luckily have not had any further issues. Remember – fluid replacement is key to staying safe and well so make sure you have that regular water-break and you wont be sorry.

Keith @keiththom2014

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