WARNING – This post will contain photos of stoma output for reference
“No Natalie, you are not haemorrhaging internally, dying or suffering from some sort of tropical disease – you ate beetroot didn’t you?”
Living with IBD you get used to inspecting your poo and it really doesn’t faze you to do it and then talk about it. Do you remember that feeling as a new mum where you discuss everything your baby does with anyone who will listen? Even going into excruciating detail about their toilet habits? Yes, that’s pretty much daily life for me about my own! Then you go and get a stoma and BAM! It is even more just a regular part of your everyday life due to it being sat there in a bag on your belly and having to empty it umpteen times a day. Then the day comes where something unexpected comes out your bag. That is, a very different colour. Red, green…blue?! What is this all about? Should I worry, panic, call my Mum, an ambulance? Fear not…most of the time it is completely ‘normal’ but here is your guide to stoma output colour and when you should be worried and when you shouldn’t.
It seems obvious but when you see something different and the panic sets in, obvious is not always the first place you go. What you eat affects your output immensely, from volume to smell to consistency and colour. Some of the biggest troublemakers for changing your output colour include:
BBETROOT – My stoma nurse discussed output colour with me prior to leaving the hospital. She had had two patients come in through Accident & Emergency believing they were bleeding internally, only to find out they had eaten beetroot earlier in the day.
IRON SUPPLEMENTS – They warn you about the constipation but don’t always tell you that they also turn your poo/output black!
TOMATO SAUCE – I find that whenever I eat things in tomato based sauces (eg. bolognaise) I get very red output
Some of the other things that can change the colour of your output include liquorice, asparagus, food colourings, red jelly and strawberries
So your bag is producing green sludge? Is it some kind of weird tropical disease? No! More often, this is bile from your stomach and can be coming out your stoma due to a stomach bug, after a blockage clears or because you haven’t eaten.
Eating smaller but more frequently with an ostomy is ideal. This ensures a constant supply of ‘stuff’ for your stomach and remaining bowel to be processing and will help prevent you from flushing and possibly encountering the dreaded dehydration.
Stomach bugs when you have an ileostomy are no fun, and you can read more about my advice on what to do when you have one here
Similarly, not eating can often result in foamy output. It can be quite alarming to see bubbles coming out of your stoma (like you have been swallowing Fairy liquid) but it is just due, again, to your digestive system being empty.
Bile output is usually dark green in colour, but if you have bright green ‘ Ghostbuster slime’ coloured output, you need to see a doctor straight away. This can indicate the presence of C-Diff infection and can make you extremely poorly, so time is of the essence.
Thanks to my lovely friend Rachel over at Rocking2Stomas, I learnt this important information and what to watch out for. Rachel will be writing a more detailed post about this soon and I will pop a link here when it is live.
You can also get blood in your bag, indicating a possible flare. If you know you haven’t eaten any of the red coloured foods that can alter the colour of your output, make sure you speak to your doctor as soon as possible so they can get you checked over.
Is glitter poop really a thing? I have heard that glitter shots and glitter jelly can result in glitter output. In the interests of science I have purchased some glitter jelly to test this theory and once I have carried out my (very important, scientific, ground breaking) experiment I will update you all! Make sure you are following me on social media, especially Instagram for those all important live updates!
So there is a round up of what your stoma output colour can mean. Obviously I am not a medical professional and please, please, please always consult your stoma nurse or doctor if you are worried or are having unusual symptoms. Please let me know in the comments below about any other stoma related posts you would like me to write about and enjoy the rest of your Wednesday.