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Diarrhoea can occur from time to time with ostomates, whether you have a colostomy or an ileostomy. Loose, watery stool can make life more difficult for an ostomate as it becomes more difficult to change the stoma bag, not to mention feeling unwell and losing vital fluids.

Having diarrhoea will often mean that the stoma bag needs to be changed much more regularly than usual. This can mean that you go through supplies much quicker and also lead to irritation of the peristomal skin.

Causes of diarrhoea

Diarrhoea can be caused by a number of factors, many of which are unrelated to having a stoma. However, having diarrhoea is more of a concern for ostomates who need to remain hydrated and deal with their stool output. Diarrhoea can be caused by:

  • Illness
  • Stress
  • Diet
  • Food poisoning
  • Some medications

Diet and diarrhoea

Diet is most commonly one of the key contributors to diarrhoea, which can be especially tricky for people with a stoma. If you think that you’re having diarrhoea due to your diet some of the following tips may help:

  • Moderate your alcohol intake – not only can this increase output, alcohol is a diuretic and can make you even more dehydrated.
  • Avoid fatty or spicy foods or eat them in small quantities
  • Moderate coffee and fruit juice intake, as these can both increase output
  • Make sure you eat starchy foods, such as rice, pasta and porridge

It’s likely that you won’t have much of an appetite if you’re currently experiencing diarrhoea, however, it’s crucial that you continue to drink fluids. If you have an ileostomy this is even more crucial, you also need to increase your intake of salt to prevent becoming rapidly dehydrated. If you can’t eat much, dry savoury crackers might be a good way to help increase salt and line your stomach. Meat extract drinks, such as Oxo or Bovril can also help with this.

There are also a number of foods that can help to relieve diarrhoea which are particularly useful for those with a stoma. These include:

  • Under-ripened bananas
  • Marshmallows
  • Jelly babies
  • White rice
  • Yoghurt
  • Buttermilk
  • Smooth peanut butter

For more information on diet and nutrition for ostomates, please click here.

What if your output doesn't seem to be slowing down?

In most cases, diarrhoea should begin to subside after a day or two. However, if your output is showing no signs of slowing down and you continue to feel unwell, we would strongly recommend that you contact your stoma care nurse or a healthcare professional for advice.

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