It’s that time of year again! Birthdays, Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas — the holidays are here, and it’s time to celebrate! For those living with an ostomy, the anxiety of being around people can add some extra stress. Don’t worry! With a few simple tips, you’ll be ready to confidently and joyfully ring in the festivities. Celebrate your holidays with an ostomy — check out the tips in our latest blog post!
Stifling A Noisy Stoma
Be mindful to relax your abdominal muscles so gas can easily pass through the stoma. If you feel the rumble of gas, try pressing your hand or forearm against your stoma. Hint: wear a jacket with pockets to discretely do this. Ambient noise will make most stoma noises inaudible.
Dressing to muffle your stoma can also help. This can include high-waisted pants, layers, sweaters, or undergarments like shapewear. One item you can find easily in the maternity section is a belly wrap or band. There are also some specialized ostomy products designed to muffle noise, including:
Stoma guards like Stomaplex
Be Mindful About Food
Another consideration is not arriving to dinner on an empty stomach. Missing meals can create more gas, so eat a small breakfast and snacks until dinner is ready. Increased output is also not ideal, so consider eating a small portion and bringing some home for later.
Certain foods can cause more gas. This includes beans, beer, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, corn, cucumbers, cauliflower, mushrooms, peas, radishes, spinach, dairy products, and excess sugar. We offer more diet advice on our website: www.ostomycanada.ca/diet.
What about Alcohol?
You may find that gastrointestinal upsets associated with alcohol that used to occur before surgery are gone with removing the diseased bowel. However, those with ileostomies are at greater risk of dehydration and electrolyte loss, and you should have water, juice, or pop with your drink. You can also buy packets of Hydralyte to carry in your pocket or purse. Beer and carbonated drinks can produce gas. Alcohol may give you loose output or extra output or not affect stool. Everybody’s different.
Minimize Ostomy Odours
Ostomy deodorizer – don’t leave home without it! All the major companies offer bottles of liquid ostomy deodorant, even in travel sizes. If you are in a pinch, drug stores often sell products like VIP Poo spray or Just a Drop which can also help to mask the odour. Just A Drop also makes the perfect purse-sized spray.
Some foods, such as asparagus, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, beans, eggs, fish, onions and some spices, will increase odour.
Always Be Prepared
Extra ostomy supplies are always a good idea, especially when travelling. You can leave them in the car, which is not recommended for extreme heat or cold. You can create a small kit in your purse or a backpack. Be sure to pre-cut the flange and use individual wipes or travel sizes to keep it compact. There is a convenient no-rinse wipe by Safe N’ Simple: Peri-Skin Cleaner & Adhesive Remover. If you must change while away from home, some companies sell odour-proof disposal bags, like Attiva Ostomy Essentials’ Sean-N-Toss Ostomy Disposal System. You can find more travel tips on our website: www.ostomycanada.ca/travel-tips
Leave No Trace
Here are a few last tips for managing your ostomy during the holidays. Avoid backsplash when you empty by lining the toilet with toilet paper. If there is still stool after flushing, use a wad of toilet paper to wipe the bowl and flush again. You can also try a biodegradable pouch liner such as Colomajic. Help keep it clean for the next person by wiping it down. Wet Ones offers individually wrapped Antibacterial Wet Wipes.
You can find more tips and advice in the Ostomy 101 section of our website: www.ostomycanada.ca. Ostomy Canada hopes these tips help you live life to the fullest this holiday season!