Hydrate. Refresh. Repeat.

I’m sure many of my fellow ostomates, particularly those with an ileostomy, will empathise when I say that my output definitely increases when the weather gets hot. It goes without saying that with more output, there has to be more bag changes,and therefore less wear time for your appliance. Having visited Cyprus last year, where the temperatures were far higher than they generally are at home, I definitely had to empty my pouch more often but I’m glad to report that I had no problems with the adhesive on my back plate, neither did I have any need to use more appliances than usual. However, one thing that I never stop talking about is the importance of hydration; I absolutely took this on board when I was away in Cyprus. To be honest I would go so far as to say it is the most fundamental survival tip for ostomates in any situation. I decided that this had to be the focus of his month’s blog as, having once ended up in hospital as a result of dehydration, I now go out of my way to make sure I get enough fluids inside me.

Signs and symptoms

According to the NHS website, you know if you’re dehydrated when:

  • You feel thirsty
  • Your pee is dark and smells strong
  • You feel dizzy or lightheaded
  • You feel tired
  • Your mouth, lips and eyes feel dry
  • You pee very few times a day (fewer than 4)

You may find you have these symptoms after you’ve been sweating, perhaps after exercise; if you’ve been out in the sun for too long, particularly on holiday in hotter countries than UK; if you’ve indulged in a few too many alcoholic drinks…

Dos and don’ts when dehydration threatens

  • Do drink lots of fluids – at least 8 cups a day. These should include water, coconut water, isotonic sports drinks, diluted juices or squash.
  • Don’t be tempted to drink fluids that are caffeinated such as coffee and tea; also avoid sugary carbonated drinks as it’s a good idea to avoid the gas; also avoid alcoholic drinks.
  • Do eat hydrating foods such as fruit and vegetables, soups or broths and you could even try smoothies but beware of the high sugar content and limit these.
  • Don’t think you need to buy rehydration sachets which can be expensive. You can easily make your own rehydration solution at home using basic ingredients:

6 level tsp sugar, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda and tap water made up to 1 litre. Stir until the powder has completely dissolved. You can flavour the solution with a little fruit squash – lemon or lime is suggested, but this should be added before the water so that that it stays at 1 litre.

  • Do make sure that you replace the electrolytes (salts) that you will lose. This isn’t something that is recommended for most people but for ostomates with an ileostomy the lack of a large intestine means that the electrolytes and water are not absorbed back into the body in the same amounts. We are actually advised to add more salt to meals or eat salty snacks to help combat the loss of electrolytes.
  • Do monitor your stoma output. If it gets more watery it’s a sign you need to replenish fluids by drinking more and eating moist foods.

I hope that this has been helpful – of course there’s plenty of useful information available on the Respond website, including a booklet containing information specifically about nutrition and what you can do to help yourself if any dietary issues should occur, you’ll find the link below. I hope you all have a great summer, stay safe and stay hydrated!


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