Blog Posts

Thickening Stoma Output

Ostomy output can vary in consistency.  In general an ileostomy output will be more watery than that from a colostomy.  The problem with a watery output is that it can easily lead to dehydration.  Stoma nurses will generally advise that you aim for a consistency like porridge.  This means your output isn’t watery enough to risk dehydration but not so thick it causes discomfort or blockages.

If you have a high, watery output there are a number of things you can do to try and thicken it.  Jelly sweets and marshmallows can help and if you have a sweet tooth like me, it’s not a bad thing to have a medical professional advising you to eat more of these!  Stodgy, carbohydrate based foods such as potatoes, porridge and pasta will also help.  My go to foods for thickening my output are mashed potato and marshmallows, although obviously not together!

Dehydration will cause the body to lose vital salts and electrolytes.  Low salt in the body can cause a few issues, but by increasing your salt levels you can combat dehydration and a watery output.  The salt will hold a certain amount of water, giving the body a little longer to absorb it.  This helps prevent dehydration, therefore leaving less water to travel through your system and cause a watery output.

Medication wise you may be prescribed loperamide (imodium) or low dose codeine (a form of pain relief).  This has to be carefully monitored to make sure your output does not then thicken up too much.

You will find trying to get a decent consistency is trial and error, and everyone has something different which works for them.  My stoma got working pretty quickly after my surgery and my doctor told me to eat as much stodge and rubbish as I could manage, including pizza and McDonald’s!  Not only do they want to improve your consistency quickly but my doctor wanted me to start putting on some of the weight I had lost while being so poorly.  It sounds like a dream, being told that sort of thing by a doctor.

Unfortunately you soon start to feel sluggish and grotty.  I couldn’t keep that sort of diet up and once I started reintroducing vegetables etc. I encountered more problems with consistency again.  Keeping a food diary definitely helped me.  I would notice which foods were making my output super watery or were causing other issues.  I could then counteract this by adding more carbohydrates into a meal for example, or choose to cut them out of my diet altogether.

Like always, there is not one solution for all with this type of problem.  Hopefully this has given you a few ideas to try.  I am available to message through the contact page if you have any questions or want to chat to someone about this.  If you having real issues with your output, my advice as always, would be to speak to your stoma nurse about it as they will be able to help and can talk to your doctor about the medication I mentioned if it is unable to be controlled by diet alone.

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