Have you or someone you know recently undergone a surgery or procedure resulting in a stoma?
If so, you may be wondering how to adapt to this new change in your life. Living with a stoma can be overwhelming and may require some adjustments, but it is possible to maintain a good quality of life with the right care and support.
What is Stoma?
A stoma is a surgically-created opening on the abdomen that allows waste to leave the body when a person's digestive or urinary system is not functioning properly. It is formed by bringing a portion of the intestine or urinary tract through the abdominal wall to the surface of the skin, where it is secured and protected by a special appliance called an ostomy bag. Stomas can be temporary or permanent and may be necessary due to various medical conditions, such as cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, or trauma.
People may need a stoma due to various medical conditions that affect the digestive or urinary system, such as cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, trauma, birth defects, or other chronic conditions. The creation of a stoma is often a necessary medical intervention to improve a person's health.
Here are a few tips and strategies for living with a stoma.
Seek Information: Familiarize yourself with the care required to prevent complications with your stoma. This can be done through consulting your healthcare provider, attending support groups, or conducting research online. Understanding your condition will give you greater confidence in managing your stoma.
Maintain Good Hygiene: To prevent skin irritation or infection, it is crucial to keep the stoma and surrounding skin clean and dry. Use warm water and mild soap to clean the stoma, and pat it dry with a clean towel. Avoid using harsh chemicals or wipes that can irritate the skin. Change the pouch regularly, particularly if it is full or leaking. It is also important to dispose of it correctly.
Watch Your Diet: Certain foods can cause gas, bloating, or diarrhea, which can affect the stoma's function, leading to leakage or skin irritation. Avoid foods that are spicy, fatty, or high in fiber, as they can cause these symptoms. To avoid dehydration, stay hydrated by consuming enough of fluids.
Take Care of Your Mental Health: Living with a stoma can be emotionally challenging, and it is normal to experience anxiety, depression, or self-consciousness. It is essential to look after your mental health and emotional well-being. This can be done by speaking with a therapist or counselor, joining a support group, or connecting with others who have stomas. Educating loved ones about your condition and needs can also be helpful.
Be Prepared: When leaving home, always carry spare pouches, wipes, and any necessary supplies with you. This will help you feel more confident and prepared in case of any unexpected situations.
Schedule Regular Check-Ups: Regular medical check-ups are important to monitor the stoma's function and prevent complications. Follow your healthcare provider's instructions on how often to schedule check-ups and any necessary tests.
It is important to remember that you are not alone. There are many people who have successfully adapted to living with a stoma, and there are resources available to help you.
Don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Your healthcare provider, a stoma nurse, or a support group can provide you with the information and support you need to care for yourself.
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