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Work Christmas parties – can you drink alcohol with a stoma?

wine glasses on table

The Christmas season is upon us and most peoples December calendars will be jam-packed with family get-together, Christmas parties and work night-outs. All of the festivities at this time of year tend to include alcohol, and as an ostomate, there is no reason why you can’t enjoy yourself and have a few drinks with your friends, family and work colleagues. 

While drinking in moderation is advised for everyone, as an ostomate it is more important that you’re careful with the amount you drink. We also advise that you get the all-clear to drink from your healthcare professional or stoma nurse.

Below are our top tips to ensure that you enjoy the festivities safely this Christmas… 

Make sure you don’t get dehydrated

Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it promotes the production of urine and has the effect of dehydrating anyone consuming it. While it’s the golden rule for anyone drinking alcohol, make sure you keep hydrated throughout a party or night-out to prevent dehydration. A good rule of thumb is to get a glass of water with every couple of alcoholic drinks you have. 

Dehydration can be problematic for ostomates for a number of different reasons causing stoma output to be hard, dry and difficult to pass which can cause further problems such as pancaking.

For urostomists, dehydration causes dark and smelly urine as well as increasing the likelihood of developing a urinary tract infection. Therefore, avoiding dehydration is really important for ostomates.

Signs of dehydration

Some potential signs of dehydration to look out for include-

  • Dry mouth
  • Feeling tired and sleepy
  • Darker coloured urine
  • Urinating less frequently than usual
  • Headache
  • Dizziness

If you have any of these signs, which are particularly common the morning after a night out, you need to make sure that you rehydrate by drinking plenty of water.

Avoid drinks that cause bloating

There are certain alcoholic beverages which can cause bloating and ballooning of stoma bags. These include lager, beer, prosecco and any other fizzy alcoholic drinks. So, while you don’t need to cut these types of drinks out altogether, it’s a good idea to just stick to one or two to prevent your stoma bag from ballooning. Ballooning can sometimes cause embarrassing odours and mean you may need to visit the bathroom more frequently to let the air out, which isn’t ideal for social events!

You can find out more about common problems such as ballooning and pancaking here.

Make sure you are prepared

A night out or a party is definitely a time for planning and preparing to ensure you’ve got all the stoma supplies you need, plus extra in case of any emergencies. You may also want to take with you some drops, sprays or tablets which can be used to disguise any odours from your stoma bag.

Once you know you’ve got everything you need, you’ll find it a lot easier to relax and enjoy your night. So preparation is key!

Maintain in control

Finally, make sure you don’t drink too much that you lose coordination or control. Remembering to change your stoma bag is really important to avoid any leakages, so as long as you don’t drink to the point that you physically can’t change your bag, then you should be absolutely fine!

We hope this has given you the confidence and advice you need to enjoy the festivities without worrying about your stoma. If you have any concerns or questions, you should speak to your stoma nurse or healthcare professional who will be able to help.

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