As we are having a bit of an Easter heat wave, it’s more important than ever to talk about dehydration with a stoma.
What the NHS say
- feeling thirsty
- dark yellow and strong smelling pee
- feeling dizzy or lightheaded
- feeling tired
- dry mouth, lips and eyes
- peeing little, and fewer than 4 times a day
Its bad news for anyone but if you have an ostomy, it’s far easier to get dehydrated than someone with all their intestines because the large intestine plays an important role in helping absorb water from food waste.
Severe dehydration can be life threatening, and any dehydration with a stoma can make you feel poorly causing tiredness, a feeling of sluggishness and more. If your output loosens and you find you are emptying your bag more frequently then it’s worth upping your fluid intake.
The NHS also say:
With an ileostomy, you will be losing more salt and fluid. This happens because your colon is not being used and therefore is not absorbing extra fluid. You will need to include a teaspoon of salt a day into your diet. Salt is an essential requirement for your body and low levels of sodium (the main ingredient in salt) can affect how well your heart works. Signs of salt depletion are tingling in the fingers.
If you are also a renal patient, you will need to discuss your salt intake in more detail with your Renal Nurse Specialist, as your salt and fluid requirements may be different.
You will need to drink plenty of fluids to avoid becoming dehydrated. The recommended amount is 2-2.5 litres per day (a minimum of 8 cups per day). If you are becoming dehydrated it can generally make you feel very unwell.
We recommend that you have isotonic drinks, which are higher in salt and sugar. Isotonic fluids are better for you because of the higher sodium (salt) and glucose content. They encourage fluid to be absorbed into your gut, rather than passing straight through into your stoma bag.
These types of drinks include Dioralyte (which you can buy from supermarkets and chemists) and Lucozade Sport or Powerade, or you can make up your own rehydration drink using:
• glucose – 6 flat teaspoons
• salt (sodium chloride) – 1 flat teaspoon
• sodium bicarbonate/citrate – 1⁄2 teaspoon • make up to 1 litre with tap water.
You can flavour this with small amounts of fruit juice.
Tips to avoid dehydration with a stoma
Its so important to keep on top of hydration with a stoma, I would say it’s one of the most important things. The make up of your body has changed and you need to readjust how you look after it. I remember after my first surgery the shock of just how thirsty I was.
My tips would be to have a bottle and sip through the day. I always drink sugar free squash and water as I find water alone goes straight through me. I also take a jug to bed with me as I know I get so thirsty in the night.
Rehydration sachets are not just for when you’re ill! I have them in all the time, I have one in my handbag for emergencies and they’re part of my ostomy kit.
Theyre my go to solution if I feel more tired than usual or if I have loose output, if I have any alcohol, I have one before bed and one in the morning and I highly recommend getting some in! I like the ORS tablets available from chemists and supermarkets.
When the temperature rises either at home or if you’re off on your holidays, then be very mindful of dehydration.
And as always, I can’t give medical advice so if I’m doubt, speak to a medical professional.