Medication & Supplements

Prescription Drugs and Over the Counter Remedies

Prescription and non-prescription drugs and vitamins are absorbed primarily through the intestines. If you have had a significant portion of your bowel removed, absorption of these substances can be affected. Absorption of medications can vary depending on the size and type of pill (i.e. tablet or capsule). Chewable tablets are effective if they are chewed well; in most cases, they are better absorbed than capsules or compressed tablets.

Ostomates who have a significant portion of their intestine removed may achieve better absorption by emptying the contents of a capsule into applesauce, or crushing a compressed tablet and adding the powder to food. A word of caution, though – not all tablets can safely be crushed, and not all capsules should be emptied. Generally speaking, time-release tablets should not be crushed, nor should time-release capsules be opened. The result could be 12 to 24 hours worth of medication being released all at once. Enteric-coated tablets should not be crushed. The reason those tablets are coated is to prevent irritating the stomach’s lining. If possible, avoid this type of tablet. FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS FOR TAKING ALL DRUGS and Consult your pharmacist or doctor if you doubt an over-the-counter drug or how different medicines may interact.

Use of Imodium and Similar Products

Give your body time to settle after you leave the hospital. Some ostomates can have loose stool for several weeks or longer after surgery. Even after you have healed completely, you may have periodic bouts of diarrhea, the same as a person with an intact digestive tract. Before reaching for an antidiarrheal, you should first consider what you may have recently consumed that might be the cause. In most cases, periodic looseness will sort itself out after a day or two.

However, people with chronically overactive colostomies and ileostomies sometimes use agents such as Imodium to help control things. These should be used only if the situation is chronic and not improving by watching your diet or consulting an expert such as an NSWOC. Lomotil is another antidiarrheal available only by prescription. Occasional diarrhea is not a cause for panic; as much as possible, give your body time to adjust on its own. If you take Pepto Bismol, be aware that your stool will turn black – this is harmless.

Source: A Handbook for New Ostomy Patients. Used with permission from Debra Rooney, Vancouver Ostomy Chapter.
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