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.

11 Comments on “Thickening Stoma Output

  1. Pingback: Ten Top Tips To Prepare For Ostomy Surgery – The Spoonie Mummy

  2. Reading you r blog and advice while in the JR2 Surgical Emergency Unit in Oxford after having to call 999 due to ileal blockage and severe dehydration.

    Like your info all of which I’m aware of but it is too easy to let things slide and end up where I am now☹️.

    Third time since 2004. So not too bad really🤗🙄


    • Oh blimey, I do hope they are looking after you! It is definitely easy to get complacent or think ‘oh one won’t hurt’ but unfortunately it sometimes can! I hope you are back on your feet soon x


  3. Very informative and helpful. I am preparing for Total Colon Removal and construction of J-bag. Temporary ileoctomy bag if all god has plan. The anxiety and pain, but trying to keep positive than I will feel better.


  4. Hello…I’m seeking permission to reprint with acknowledgement an article and link in the OASC Ostomy Edge newsletter.

    OASC (Ostomy Association Simcoe County) is a volunteer-led not-for-profit organization that shares knowledge and experience with people affected by or living with a colostomy, urostomy or ileostomy. It is a chapter of Ostomy Canada Society , a registered Canadian charity dedicated to helping people with an ostomy, and their families, through support, education, collaboration and advocacy.

    OASC’s newsletter, OstomyEdge, appears 10 times per year in English, and is shared at no charge only in electronic format (PDF/flip-book) with almost 100 members and friends of our chapter in Simcoe County, Ontario, via email.

    I would love to include this article in our upcoming edition, August 2020, if you can reply by July 20, 2020 or sooner. This article is very informative.

    Kathryn Stewart, Communications Editor OASC


  5. Pingback: TOP TEN MOST READ POSTS IN 2020 – The Spoonie Mummy

  6. I am now getting an extremely sticky output, honestly, it’s like superglue almost! Rang for advice from Stoma Nurse at the BRI and was told to drink more and eat more fibre. I am trying very hard to do this but am having to change my bag so often because the poo just stays in a sticky pile. Hope you can help.


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