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Stoma Discharge – what’s normal and what’s cause for concern

24th June 2020

A common concern amongst ostomates is whether or not their stoma discharge is normal. We thought now would be a great time to put people’s minds at ease and explain what’s normal and what may require a trip to the GP. 

Mucus-discharge:

Mucus-discharge is a common part of having any type of stoma. Mucus is produced by the lining of the bowel to help with the passage of stools. The lining of the bowel will continue to produce mucus after stoma surgery, even though it is not needed anymore.

Often people who have had stoma surgery can discover mucus-discharge in their pouch. As the mucus is mixed up with stools it’s not always very obvious to see. For those who have had a urostomy formed, the mucus can easily be seen in the pouch, as the urine is clear.

A urostomy is also created from part of your bowel, so having mucus-discharge present is perfectly normal. Mucus-discharge can often be more productive in the first few weeks and months,  following surgery and then the amount slowly reduces. However, an increase in mucus can be a sign of a urine infection, so it may be beneficial to speak with your Stoma Care Nurse or GP.

Tip:

  • Some suggestions are; to add more vitamin C to your diet or try drinking cranberry juice as it can help with mucus reduction (please note: do not take cranberry if you are on warfarin).

Rectal discharge:

If you’ve had a colostomy formed and your rectum and anus are still intact, you may have some discharge from your bottom, known as rectal discharge. People who have an ileostomy formed but have an intact large intestine may also experience discharge from their rectum. The longer the remaining section of your bowel is after stoma surgery, the more likely you are to have rectal discharge.

Mucus can vary in appearance, for some it can be a clear “egg white” to a sticky, glue-like consistency. It can either leak out of your bottom or build up into a ball, which can cause discomfort. If there are any signs of blood or pus in the discharge, it could be a sign of infection or tissue damage, so contact your GP.

Tips

  • It may help to go with any “urge” and sit on the toilet every day and push down as if passing a stool. It is important not to strain as this could damage the pelvic floor. This should remove the mucus and stop it from building up. If the sensation is reduced, talk with your Stoma Care Nurse as you may need further treatment.
  • Glycerine suppositories that you insert into your bottom can help as they make the mucus more watery as they dissolve. The mucus then becomes easier to pass.
  • The mucus can sometimes cause irritation around the skin, on your bottom, so using a barrier cream such as vaseline or sudocream can help. There are others to try in your local chemist, if these don’t work.
  • Some people find that eating certain foods increases mucus production. You may want to keep a food diary for a few weeks to see if there is any link with certain foods to your mucus production.

Discharge from around the stoma:

Following stoma surgery, you will be observing the skin around the stoma for any redness or soreness skin. It is also good to look for any discharge from the skin itself.

If you experience any discharge from where the skin and your stoma join and it becomes bloody or offensive in odour, it is a good idea to speak with your stoma care nurse, as you may have an infection.

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