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Useful Tips for Anyone Who's New to an Ostomy

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Over the years, I’ve learned many useful tips for living well with an ostomy as a local support chapter visitor. I have passed them on to patients when they had questions/concerns about living with an appliance. These tips are the most common I’ve shared — I’ve encountered many inquires about odor, cleaning the appliance, leakage, where to find supplies and how to access information the United Ostomy Association of American (UOAA) provides on ostomies and support chapters.

So to anyone who’s new to an ostomy, here’s what I’d want you to know.

To Prevent Odor

1. Light a candle and blow it out several times first before emptying the pouch.

2. Spray the bathroom first with Lysol before emptying.

3. Use Adapt deodorant lubricant by Hollister. Put it in the bag after each time it’s emptied.

To Clean the Bag

1. Before emptying the bag, take a squirt bottle or an empty dish soap bottle and fill it with cold water (not hot). Squirt it into the bag, swish it around then empty out.

Dealing With Appliance Leaks

1. Always have an extra appliance with you. Put it in a purse or bag, or the inside of a coat pocket if possible.

2. Be mindful of where you are in your changing cycle. When did you change it last? If you are going out, it’s wise to change it before you leave home to be on the safe side.

3. It’s OK to get upset if the appliance leaks. It’s equally important to be calm and put things in perspective. Remind yourself that this may happen and you will deal with it, get through it and move on.

Ostomy Supplies

1. If you don’t know where to purchase supplies, contact a manufacturer such as Convatec, Hollister or Coloplast, and they can tell you which surgical supply stores near you carries their brand.

2. If you wish to try a product before you buy it, contact the manufacturer for free samples.

3. If there is a defect in an ostomy product, call the company and they will send you a replacement.

  • Convatec: 1-800-422-8811
  • Hollister: 1-888-808-7456
  • Coloplast: 1-855-745-8544

If a new ostomate wishes to learn more about stoma care, support groups, dietary needs, skin care, etc. they can contact the United Ostomy Association of America by visiting their site or calling 1-800-826-0826.

 Remember, having a stoma is not the end, but a new beginning. You have your life back and can accomplish anything you set your mind to.

Getty image via corbac40

Originally published: May 26, 2019
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