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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
An ileostomy is an opening made on the surface of your abdomen. The lower part of your small intestine is the ileum. It is brought through the opening in your abdomen. A stoma (opening) is made from your ileum to allow you to have bowel movements. Your ileostomy may be temporary or permanent. An ileostomy is done to treat intestinal conditions such as Crohn disease, ulcerative colitis, and colorectal cancer.
Call 911 if:
- You are short of breath or have chest pain.
- Your abdomen becomes hard and painful.
Seek care immediately if:
- Your arm or leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.
- You cannot stop vomiting.
- The color of your stoma turns to gray or black.
- Bowel contents will not drain through your stoma.
Contact your surgeon if:
- You have a temperature of 101ºF (38.3ºC) or higher.
- Your incision wound or stoma is red, swollen, and has foul-smelling drainage.
- You have more bowel contents draining from your stoma than is normal for you.
- Your stoma becomes narrow, comes out too far, or sinks inside your abdomen.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
- Prescription pain medicine may be given. Ask your healthcare provider how to take this medicine safely. Some prescription pain medicines contain acetaminophen. Do not take other medicines that contain acetaminophen without talking to your healthcare provider. Too much acetaminophen may cause liver damage. Prescription pain medicine may cause constipation. Ask your healthcare provider how to prevent or treat constipation.
- Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
After surgery self-care:
- Do not lift more than 10 pounds for 4 weeks or as directed. Also, avoid bending and twisting. This will help your surgery area heal and decrease your risk for a hernia.
- Prevent blood clots and pneumonia. Walk around the inside of your house at least every 2 hours.
- Check your stoma every day. Check for signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, and drainage.
- Do not drive until your healthcare provider says it is okay.
Work with an ostomy specialist:
An ostomy specialist can provide more information on how to care for your ileostomy. He or she will help select the right size and type of pouch for your ileostomy to prevent problems. You may need a different size pouch after your stoma heals. He or she will also know how and where to get the supplies you need, and which supplies are best.
Wound and stoma care:
Ask your healthcare provider or ostomy specialist for more information about the following ileostomy care steps:
- Carefully wash your incision wound and stoma with warm water. If you use soap, make sure to rinse it off well. Dry the area and put on new, clean bandages as directed and when you change your bag. Change your bandages when they get wet or dirty. Ask your ostomy specialist or healthcare provider for more information on ileostomy care.
- Empty your bag when it is 1/3 to 1/2 full. If your pouch is too full, it may become heavy and pull on your skin.
- Follow directions for how often to change your ileostomy bag. This will help prevent damage to your stoma and skin. How often you need to change the pouch depends on the kind of pouch you have.
- Use a skin-sealant as directed. This is used to prevent leaks and protect your stoma from becoming irritated by bowel contents.
- Follow the directions given to you for care of an internal reservoir. You may need to empty the reservoir 3 to 4 times each day. Empty bowel contents with a thin tube. Do not use medicines that contain wax. The wax can build up in the pouch and block your stoma. Ask your or healthcare provider if you are taking any medicines that contain wax.
- Carry extra supplies with you in case your bag leaks. Supplies may include extra pouches, skin protection products, or a change of clothing.
Nutrition to reduce symptoms:
- Eat a small amount of food at a time. Eat foods high in fiber, such as bran cereals, vegetables, and whole-grain breads. Take small bites and chew your food well. Do not have prune juice or cabbage. They may make your bowel contents more liquid and can lead to dehydration.
- Drink liquids as directed. You may need to drink about 1 to 2 extra glasses of liquid each day to prevent dehydration. Ask your healthcare provider how much liquid you should drink each day.
- Try not to swallow air. Smoking, chewing gum, or drinking quickly or through a straw may cause you to swallow air. It can cause gas, and lead to more odor from your stoma.
Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:
You will need to return to have your ileostomy checked and to make sure the stoma is healing. You may also need more tests. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
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