Crohn’s Disease: 10 Essentials to Keep in Your Medicine Cabinet

medicine cabinet door opened showing a variety of medications

Crohn’s disease is a chronic digestive disorder that affects the gastrointestinal tract (GI). According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), it causes inflammation and damage in the digestive tract. Crohn’s disease belongs to a group of conditions called inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD).

There’s currently no cure for Crohn’s disease, but various treatments can help manage its symptoms. If you have Crohn’s disease, it’s also a good idea to keep several over-the-counter (OTC) medicines and supplies on hand in case of an emergency.

The 10 Essentials to Help Manage Crohn's Disease

We suggest keeping these ten essential non-prescription supplies at home to ease your symptoms and lessen the effects of a flare-up from Crohn’s disease.

1. Antidiarrheal medications

A common symptom of IBD is diarrhea, and it can become worse during a flare. Antidiarrheal medications may be able to help. There are many choices at your local pharmacy that do not require a prescription. Those may include:

  • Pepto-Bismol
  • Kaopectate
  • Imodium-ID

It is always important to speak to your doctor before taking any new OTC medication or supplement and thoroughly read and follow the dosing directions.

2. Pain relievers

GeriCare liquid pain reliefThose with Crohn’s disease often experience stomach pain as a flare symptom. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory pain relievers (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen can help control inflammation associated with IBD. Research has linked NSAIDs to increased relapses, flares, and overall disease activity.

A better option might be using acetaminophens such as Tylenol or Geri-Care Liquid Pain Relief. These options will not help with inflammation but will reduce fever and pain. As always, talk to your doctor about the right pain reliever for you.

3. Ointment for skin irritation

Balmex Diaper Rash OintmentCrohn’s flares can irritate the skin around the anus. Using a skin protectant, such as Balmex Diaper Rash Treatment, can protect against wetness and irritants, helping prevent diaper rash from getting worse.

4. Personal care wipes

You may experience perineal complications with Crohn’s disease, such as a fistula or abscess. Making sure to keep good hygiene could greatly help ease your symptoms. By using a perineal cleansing product such as DermaRite PeriFresh No-Rinse Perineal Cleanser and unscented wipes to clean and soothe irritated areas, your skin will thank you.

5. A thermometer

You may start to run a fever during a Crohn’s flare. Keeping a thermometer on hand is helpful so you can keep track of your Crohn’s disease symptoms for your next doctor appointment. Writing down the date, time, and length of your elevated temperature can help your doctor better understand your symptoms.

6. An electrolyte solution

Sqwincher Electrolyte Replenishment DrinkIf you are experiencing diarrhea as a symptom of your Crohn’s disease, you are likely losing sodium and sugar, which help you stay hydrated. During a Crohn’s flare, watery diarrhea can cause dehydration symptoms such as thirst, urinating less frequently, darker urine than usual, dry mouth, headaches, and fatigue.

Your doctor may recommend an OTC oral rehydration solution such as Pedialyte or Sqwincher products. These oral supplements help replenish vital minerals and nutrients lost during diarrhea and aid in rehydration. The key electrolytes (sodium and potassium) promote fluid absorption and help keep the body’s defense immune system optimally performing.

7. Nutritional supplements

Stocking up on bottles of nutritional supplements can help make sure you are getting adequate calories and nutrition. Since some foods may contribute to your Crohn’s disease symptoms, these dietary supplements can aid in delivering the proper nutrients as you manage your flare.

Ensure Original Strawberry flavored therapeutic nutritional shakeThere are plenty of flavorful supplements on the market today, so getting the right balance doesn’t have to taste bland. Some of the delicious varieties include:

8. Epsom salt

During a Crohn’s flare, anal fistulas and fissures can occur and cause painful bowel movements and soreness. Warm bath water with Epsom salt can help relieve the pain, itching, and muscle spasms. The water’s warmth may help ease the discomfort on the rear, and the Epsom salt can help soothe sore muscles and reduce inflammation.

9. Heating pads

Arthritis or pain and swelling of the joints are common complaints from those with Crohn’s disease. Heating pads deliver moist heat that can help relieve joint discomfort and help abdominal pain and cramping. These are a low-risk solution that might provide some needed comfort.

10. Vitamin supplements

With IBD, chronic intestinal bleeding leads to anemia, a lack of healthy red blood cells that carry oxygen to body tissue. Doctors often prescribe an iron supplement to address this condition. Blood loss from ulcers might be another reason an iron supplement may be recommended.

According to a 2019 study, Crohn’s disease and the steroids used to treat the condition have been linked to an increased risk for osteoporosis, a weakening of the bones. Your doctor may recommend taking calcium and a vitamin D supplement. Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium to keep your bones healthy and prevent further problems.

Crohn’s disease can come with a wide array of complications and discomforts. Hopefully, some of these suggestions we have provided can help reduce your symptoms, ease your pain, lengthen your remission, and help you love an enjoyable life.

For any questions about the products, we carry at Personally Delivered that may help you get through your Crohn’s flare, our knowledgeable and caring Product Experts are just a phone call away and ready to assist.

Popular Nutritional Products

Ensure Plus Therapeutic Nutrition Shake

ensure plus chocolate flavor nutritional shake

Sqwincher Quik Stik Zero Electrolyte Replenishment Drink Mix

Sqwincher Quik Stik Zero Electrolyte Replenishment Drink Mix

Thick-It Original Instant Food and Beverage Thickener

Thick-It Original Instant Food and Beverage Thickener

Boost Breeze Nutrition Drink

Boost Breeze Nutrition Drink
Personally Delivered- home

Thick Water and Other Thickened Liquids

an array of thick water and thickened liquids we carry at personally delivered

Thick water and other thickened liquids allow those with swallowing disorders such as dysphagia to control the fluid in their mouth better. These beverages help slow down the rate these liquids flow down the throat, which lessens the chance of fluid going into your airway. Liquids that go into your airway end up in your lungs and can cause pneumonia or a lung infection.

The thicker consistency of thick water and other thickened liquids makes them less likely to cause a person to accidentally breathe fluid into the lungs (aspirate) while they are drinking. Individuals with difficulty swallowing may find that thickened liquids enable them to swallow safely.

What is thick water?

thick-it clear advantage thick waterThickened liquids are a medical dietary adjustment that increases fluids’ consistency to prevent choking. Thickened liquids are recommended for individuals who have difficulty swallowing (dysphagia) and keeping food or liquid from entering the airway. You may need to have thickened liquids for dysphagia if you have a neurological condition such as a stroke, a weakening of the esophagus’ muscles or nerves, or from a blockage in the throat.

Viscosity is the measurement of how thin or thick a liquid is. The lower the viscosity, the thinner the liquid. Thus, the higher the viscosity, the thicker the liquid. When a thin liquid such as water is mixed with Xanthan Gum or modified starch, the liquid starts to thicken, forming into thick water. The more Xanthum Gum or modified starch added, the thicker the liquid consistency becomes.

Note:

Starch-based thickeners are easier to mix, but they are best consumed immediately after mixing. The longer a starch-based thickener sits, the thicker the consistency will become. If the liquid is then refrigerated, the fluid may become too thick.

Xanthan gum-based thickeners are more versatile and have a more stable viscosity than starch. Once this type of thickener achieves its optimal viscosity, your food or beverage will be ready for consumption at the consistency that you want it. Xanthan gum-based thickeners can be frozen, thawed, and refrigerated while retaining the desired consistency.

Commercial Xanthan gum-based thickened products include:

Why would thick water be recommended?

Dysphagia – If you suffer from dysphagia, you may need help moving liquids more slowly down your throat. Thick water and other thickened liquids give extra time to control the liquid while swallowing. Thickened liquids may also help to protect the airway.

Trach Tube Removal – Patients may be advised to consume thickened liquids after the trachea tube that helped them breathe is removed. Thickened liquids may help effectively and safely transfer fluids from the mouth to the stomach after this breathing tube is removed.

Speech or Oral Issue – If you are seeing a Speech-Language Pathologist, they may recommend thickened liquids to make swallowing liquids safer for a couple of reasons.

  • If you have a delayed swallow, thick water or thickened liquids can slow down the liquid flow. Thin liquids move fast and can spill out of the mouth and into the throat before you are ready to swallow.
  • Not only do thin liquids move fast, but they are also difficult to control and unpredictable. Thickened liquids can keep the sip of liquid together in one ball (also known as a bolus). If you have decreased airway closure, thin liquids can splash into the airway before, during, or after swallowing.

The goal is to prevent liquids from entering your airway and getting into your lungs. If fluids enter the airway, it could lead to discomforts such as coughing, congestion, shortness of breath, and aspiration pneumonia.

What are the levels of thickness of thickened liquids?

Liquid consistencies greatly vary across different products. The International Dysphagia Diet Standardisation Initiative (www.IDDSI.org) created a standardization for thickened liquids that includes five levels starting with zero:

0. Thin liquids (unthickened liquids such as water, coffee, tea, broth, skim milk)

1. Slightly Thick: (similar to V8 juice consistency)

2. Mildly Thick (nectar consistency)

3. Moderately Thick (honey consistency)

4. Extremely Thick (pudding consistency)

The IDDSI created the Flow Test so you can check the thickness accuracy of liquids in your own home. For example, you may think that your Ensure is a thickened liquid, but with the IDDSI Flow Test, it tests as only a thin liquid (level 0). You will need a 10ml Slip Tip Syringe to perform the flow test and can view the steps below.

What are the benefits of thick water and other thickened liquids?

  • Thick water or thickened liquids allow better control of the fluids in the mouth as the swallowing process takes place.
  • Studies have shown there is less of a chance of aspiration with thickened fluids for various reasons specific to the individual swallow.
  • Thickened liquids may allow the throat more time to initiate the beginning phase of swallowing, protecting the airway.
  • There are options for pre-thickened liquids that can be purchased to lessen the potential drawbacks that come with manual thickening of liquids.

Precautions of thickened liquids

  • Those who use thickened liquids are at a higher risk of dehydration, increasing the risk of other complications such as urinary tract infections.
  • Thick water and thickened liquids do not entirely eliminate the risk of aspiration.
  • For some, thick water or other thickened liquids are less favorable to the taste than thin liquids.
  • There are special considerations to consider when thickening liquids, such as clumping, thickening over time if left out, and the effects on blood sugar levels.
  • Thickening liquids requires effort and time if you are manually thickening liquids. Alternately, purchasing pre-thickened liquids can be expensive.

What can you do to improve the taste?

  • 12 pack of Boost Plus nutritional drinkThe more products you try, the more you will discover what you prefer. Many of the products on the market today use Xanthan gum, which helps prevent dry mouth and doesn’t change the taste of the liquid it is added to.
  • When adding a thickener to milk, it may be helpful to add a few drops of vanilla extract to bring back the flavor.
  • The best way to make tasty and naturally thick smoothies is to use a blender. Yogurt, a banana, or avocado can be used as thickening agents. You can add all sorts of fruits, protein powders, or supplements like Ensure or Boost in the nutritional value and taste.

Check out this recipe idea to make: Nutritious Smoothie.

Where to buy thick water and other thickeners?

At Personally Delivered, we carry a wide assortment of thickened liquids and pureed foods. Shop our online store, choose a few different types of thickened products, and start discovering what you like. If you need assistance with your selections, we have helpful Product Experts that can help guide you through the purchasing process.

Always consult with your doctor or nutritionist before taking on a new dietary plan. They will help you estimate the number of calories and protein you need and any dietary restrictions you should follow. If you have diabetes, it is also helpful to check with your doctor about your sugar/carbohydrate intake. Many natural fruits are loaded with sugar. They will also advise you on how thick your liquids and foods should be for safe swallowing.

Popular Thickened Liquids and Other Nutritional Products

Thick-It Clear Advantage Thickened Water, Honey Consistency

thick-it clear advantage thick water

Ensure Clear Therapeutic Nutrition

ensure clear carton

Thick And Easy Clear Thickened Beverages, Nectar Consistency

Thick And Easy Clear Thickened Beverages, Nectar Consistency

Boost Original Nutrition Shake

Boost Original Nutrition Shake
Personally Delivered- home

Post-Plastic Surgery “Must-Haves” at Home

woman lying in bed holding a pillow over her chest

Are you scheduled to have a plastic surgery procedure and wondering what might make your recovery more comfortable once you get back home? We have some suggested “must-have” items that can aid in the healing process and help make the first several days at home a bit less stressful. Taking it easy after any kind of reconstructive or plastic surgery is essential, and with a little preparation, relaxation is achievable with the right products and supplies. One of the best things you can do to help aid post-surgery recovery is to plan ahead.

Comfortable Clothing

Do you have a favorite oversized button-up shirt and pajama pants? If not, it is time to purchase a few sets. After surgery, it’s not about fashion, it’s about comfort. Loose-fitting clothing will be your new favorite look, and your body will thank you later.

After plastic surgery, such as breast surgery, lifting your arms may be temporarily difficult. A large button-up or zip-up top is easy to put on and take off. Soft, loose-fitting bottoms with either an elastic waistband or tie and a pair of slippers are also highly recommended. For a few days and sometimes longer, you will want to minimize the amount of movement necessary for you to put on and take off clothing articles.

Vascular Compression Garments

vascular compression socks for plastic surgery recovery at home

The body naturally produces fluids during recovery, and wearing a compression garment can help the body recover and increases your comfort during the healing process. The compression garment aids in a smooth recovery process after surgical procedures by applying even pressure around the treated area, preventing fluid buildup and helping the body absorb any fluid that does not accumulate.

Vascular compression garments are constructed of elastic and nylon material and work to facilitate a tight (but not constrictive) fit. Compression garments ensure that specific body areas receive constant, uniform pressure and are appropriately sized to fit your body’s contours for the type of surgery you underwent.

Some of the benefits of wearing compression garments include:

  • They Can Promote Healing
  • Swelling happens when the body sends fluid to the surgery site after a surgical procedure. By using compression garments, the amount of fluid buildup reduces, resulting in less swelling.
  • They Can Reduce Infections
  • Because compression garments are placed over the surgery site, bacteria and other potential contaminants are kept away from the wound, keeping the surgery site protected from possible infection.
  • They Can Prevent Bruising
  • Bruising is common after surgery. Blood vessels are disrupted when a surgical incision is made, causing blood to leak from small blood vessels under the skin near the surgical site. This bruising can be minimized by using compression garments to help red blood cells from working themselves up to the surface of the skin.
  • They Can Minimize Scarring
  • Compression garments deliver pressure therapy to help manage the development of scar tissue. The compression garment holds the skin together firmly and interferes with the body’s ability to produce collagen at the surgery site, which is how scars are formed.

Body Support Pillows

a body pillow is excellent when recovering from plastic surgeryAfter a plastic surgery procedure such as a facelift or rhinoplasty, keeping your head elevated is helpful. Those that undergo breast and body plastic surgery procedures can benefit from body pillows and cushions such as the body pillowcervical pillow, or thera cushion by Hermell Products.

a neck pillow for comfortable plastic surgery recovery at homePillows help position your body so that you can rest and sleep comfortably during recovery. Some plastic surgery procedures like breast surgery won’t allow you to sleep on your sides for an extended period. Having a couple of body pillows on each side can help you stay in place throughout the night without worrying about accidentally turning onto your side.

Underpads or a Mattress Cover

a mattress protector is excellent for plastic surgery recovery in case of a spill or leak

After most surgical procedures, our digestion systems get disrupted. The use of anesthesia and other pain medications and lack of mobility all contribute to constipation. Some respond well to gentle constipation relief like stool softeners or laxatives, while others may wind up having unpredictable diarrhea episodes. By preparing yourself and your recovery area with underpads, bed pads, or chux, you can protect yourself and your furniture from these incidents.

For even more security for your bed, you might opt for a mattress cover. A mattress cover or mattress protector can help extend your mattress’s life by protecting it from stains. With a mattress cover on, you are safeguarding your bed from leaks and spills that can also result in potential mold growth if the liquids soak deep into the mattress. Just make sure that you choose a waterproof option when purchasing your mattress cover. In addition to keeping your bed clean and sanitary, a mattress cover can also provide another comfort layer.

Skin & Wound Care Supplies

You cannot wash your hands enough after surgery. The frequent use of hand sanitizers and antibacterial soap can prevent infection and the spread of it. Place hand sanitizers next to your bed, the kitchen, near the toilet, and at your front door for visitors to use upon entry.

Curity gauze spongesYour regular personal hygiene routine might not be possible when you are recovering. With some surgeries, your doctor’s orders may include for you to not get wet for the first few days after plastic surgery. Stock up on no-rinse products like foaming cleansers and body wash, rinse-free shampoo, and no-rinse perineal cleanser. These products can help you feel cleaner and more comfortable.

white exam glove on handYou can also benefit by being well-stocked on wound care supplies such as gauze sponges and pads, wound care spray, and alcohol prep wipes or swab sticks. Your doctor may send you home with a little care pack that includes a limited amount of these supplies, but that will usually not be enough. Depending on the directions you receive from your surgeon, your would site may need to be cleaned and redressed multiple times a day. Having an ample supply of wound care products can keep your surgery site sterile and help reduce the risk of infection.

And don’t forget about a box of gloves. Even though you will frequently be washing your hands and using hand sanitizer, when you are cleaning a wound site and replacing the dressings, you will want to handle your wound care supplies with just as much care.

Prepared Meals

four plastic containers of prepared healthy meals

Making sure you have plenty of meals prepared for when you get back from the hospital is essential since you may not be up to cooking for the first several days after surgery. Prepping extra food when cooking in the weeks leading up to your surgery will help fill your freezer with easily accessible reheatable meals during recovery. You can also opt for prepared meals that come in a can or microwaveable container that similarly provide balanced nutrition, especially if you might have any trouble swallowing.

Certain surgeries, such as breast surgery, will limit your range of motion. It is wise to place items you will need out of the refrigerator, freezer, and cabinets down to a more accessible level. Anything that is 5 lbs. or more should also be distributed into smaller, more manageable containers to not lift more than you should during your recovery.

In addition to your favorite healthy foods, have a few options on hand that are gentle on the stomach in case of irritation. You might feel nauseous after anesthesia or when using pain medications, so having items such as ginger ale, applesauce, bananas, rice, and crackers are foods that may have a calming effect on the stomach when you feel nauseous after surgery.

And always remember to stay hydrated! Keep plenty of fresh water around you at all times. The body heals quicker and better when it is adequately hydrated.

Prescription and Over-the-Counter Medications

Clearlax laxative powder

It would be a wise decision to ask your doctor what prescriptions you will be required to take to get these filled in advance if possible. Some patients don’t need prescription pain relief and easily manage discomfort using over-the-counter options. Make sure you have ibuprofen and acetaminophen on hand, as these are potent medications that can enhance your comfort while you heal. Just make sure your doctor approves of these kinds of over-the-counter medications as sometimes they can interfere with the prescriptions or the healing process.

As we mentioned earlier, your surgeon may also recommend over-the-counter products to counteract constipation resulting from the pain medications. These may come in the form of powder, liquid, pills, or fiber intake. You can avoid discomfort by making sure you have these ready and available should the need arise.

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Don't Forget to Ask for Help

Make sure you have someone to help you around the house for the first few days. You can also hire a home health care service to help you with chores or small errands like prescription refills if necessary. In addition to the meals you ready prepped, friends and family can help cook some comfort foods to keep you well-stocked. It never hurts to ask for help, and you will be surprised how many will be more than willing.

As you prepare for plastic surgery, you may need to ask for help in the following ways:

  • Someone to drive you home on the day of your surgery
  • Someone you trust to stay with you for the first day or two
  • Help with your children, if you have young ones at home
  • Assistance cleaning up around the house or running quick errands
  • Someone to drive you to and from post-surgical appointments until you’re off pain medications and able to drive yourself

Recovery is often the most challenging part of the plastic surgery process, but with a little preparation and a bit of patience, you’ll soon be looking back at how quickly it all went. Take your time throughout the recovery process and allow your body to heal at its own pace gently. While there is no checklist that works to fit everyone’s personal preferences and doctor recommendations, this list of “must-haves” may be a great place to start.

For any questions about any of the products we offer that might help you with your plastic surgery recovery process, our Personally Delivered Product Experts are just a phone call away and ready to assist. Remember, recovery is a process. It takes time, patience, and everything you’ve got.

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A Tracheostomy: Navigating Life With One

woman sitting with a scarf covering her tracheostomy valve

You may have many questions about the future if you or a loved one has recently had a tracheostomy while in the hospital. Everyone’s experience as to why they needed a tracheostomy in the first place and what their future looks like will differ. Many people live for a long time with a tracheostomy. However, having one usually requires several adjustments to your lifestyle and careful planning to ensure adequate care.

We will discuss what a tracheostomy is, why it would be needed, ways to cope, and some standard terms associated with a tracheostomy. We hope you will find this information beneficial as you or a loved one navigates through life with a tracheostomy, whether it is a temporary or permanent solution.

What is a Tracheostomy?

An assortment of tracheostomy tubes available at Personally DeliveredA tracheostomy is an opening in the front of the neck that’s made during an emergency or planned surgery. A tube is inserted into this opening in the trachea, or windpipe, for the person to breathe. This opening makes an airway for those who cannot breathe independently or have a blockage affecting their breathing. If a disease, such as cancer, is expected to cause difficulty breathing, a tracheostomy may be needed.

The tracheostomy opening is a kind of stoma that looks similar to the lining inside of the cheek. The stoma is pink or red and will be a hole in the front of the neck. Because a tracheostomy helps someone breathe, the larynx, or voice box, remains in place.

With a tracheostomy, if a person’s lungs still function well, they breathe through the tube directly in the trachea instead of breathing through their nose and mouth. If a person’s lungs are not working correctly or are affected by a disease, assistance from a breathing machine can help push air in and out of the tracheostomy tube.

What are the Reasons For a Tracheostomy?

There are three main reasons a tracheostomy is performed:

  1. The upper airway is obstructed
  2. To remove and clean the airway from secretions
  3. To deliver more oxygen to the lungs

There are many reasons why sufficient air cannot get to the lungs, and a tracheostomy must be performed.

Airway Problems That May Require a Tracheostomy

  • Tumors in the throat or neck area
  • A large tongue or a small jaw that blocks the airway
  • Infection that causes swelling inside the trachea
  • Laryngectomy (removal of the vocal cords)
  • Tracheomalacia (collapse of the airway)
  • Vocal cord paralysis caused by nerve damage or disease
  • Blunt or severe trauma to the throat, neck, or mouth
  • Congenital abnormalities of the airway
  • Inhalation of corrosive material, smoke, or steam that burns the airway
  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Obstruction from a foreign body

Lung Problems That May Require a Tracheostomy

  • Chest wall injury
  • Chronic pulmonary disease – the lungs become inflamed and obstruct airflow
  • Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia – abnormal development of the lungs of infants that causes a breathing disorder and causes the need for prolonged respiratory support
  • Dysfunction of the diaphragm

Other Situations That May Require a Tracheostomy

  • Fracture of cervical vertebrae with spinal cord injury
  • Neuromuscular diseases paralyzing or weakening the diaphragm and chest muscles
  • Aspiration related to muscle or sensory problems in the throat
  • A severe allergic reaction
  • Long-term coma or unconsciousness
  • Facial surgery and facial burns
  • Other emergencies when breathing is obstructed, and emergency personnel can’t put a breathing tube through the mouth and into the trachea

Is a Tracheostomy Permanent?

A tracheostomy can be either temporary or permanent, depending on the problem being treated. If a medical issue needs to be resolved, a tracheostomy provides an alternate breathing route and is meant to be temporary. However, a tracheostomy may be the best permanent solution if a person needs to remain indefinitely connected to a ventilator.

If the plan is for a tracheostomy to be temporary, the length of time it is left in place depends on why it was done and how long that problem will take to get better. For example, if a patient needs help from a breathing machine, the issue that caused the tracheostomy will need to heal or be fixed before the tracheostomy can be removed. If the tracheostomy was done due to a blockage, injury, or disease, the tube would probably be needed for an extended period. A tracheostomy could be in place for the rest of the patient’s life if part of the trachea is required to be removed or if it doesn’t get better. The hole may close and heal on its own, or it can be closed surgically.

What to Expect After Tracheostomy Surgery?

After tracheostomy surgery, several days will be spent in the hospital as your body heals. Learning skills necessary for maintaining and coping with your tracheostomy during this time are essential.

While you are in the hospital:

  • Learn how to care for your tracheostomy tube. Cleaning and changing your tracheostomy tube helps prevent infection and reduces the risk of complications. Your team of nurses will help train you on how to care for your tracheostomy tube.
  • You may need help speaking. A tracheostomy usually prevents speaking because exhaled air goes out of the tracheostomy opening rather than through your voice box. Speaking with the tube in place is dependent on the type of tube, the width of your trachea, and the condition of your voice box. A speech therapist or trained tracheostomy care nurse will discuss options for communicating and help you learn to use your voice again.
  • Eating will be difficult. Swallowing will be difficult after a tracheostomy. You will receive nutrients through an intravenous (IV) line, a feeding tube that passes through your mouth or nose, or a tube inserted directly into your stomach. It may take some time and patience to regain the muscle strength and coordination needed for swallowing.
  • Discuss ways to cope with dry air. After a tracheostomy, the air you breathe will be much drier because it no longer passes through your moist nose and throat before reaching your lungs. You may experience episodes of coughing or excess mucus coming out of the tracheostomy. Secretions can be loosened by putting small amounts of saline directly into the tracheostomy tube. Having a humidifier or vaporizer in the room can also be beneficial, as they add moisture to the air.

When you get home:

  • Get plenty of rest. Getting enough sleep will help you recover and remember not to overdo it.
  • Plan for time off work. Depending on the type of work you do, plan on taking about two weeks off. Even if you work from home, focus on your healing, and take it easy. You never know how you will feel and what health issues may arise once you get home.
  • Fit in a little exercise. Try to get in a walk each day. Start slow and work your way up to longer times. Avoid anything strenuous like running or lifting weights. Walking is best and boosts blood flow, which helps prevent constipation and pneumonia.
  • Bathe carefully. Stick to bathing in a shallow bathtub and try to avoid splashing water into your trach. You can also try showering, but aim the stream away from your tracheostomy. Bacteria can quickly enter the tracheostomy, and you don’t want to get an infection. It would be best if you did not swim with a tracheostomy.

Diet

  • Cardinal Health suction canister for those with a tracheostomyEating. You should be able to eat without a problem, but if food or liquid gets into your tracheostomy tube, suction it out right away. It is helpful to sit up while you eat. The suction canister kit by Cardinal Health is an excellent option for this.
  • Drinking. Staying hydrated is also very helpful, so try to make sure your fluid intake is sufficient.
  • Regular bowel movements may be off. It is common to experience irregular bowel movements after surgery. Taking a fiber supplement or mild laxative may help move things along. However, if you have not had a bowel movement after a couple of days, you will need to contact your doctor.
  • Your stomach may become upset. If your stomach is upset, try bland, low-fat foods like plain rice, broiled chicken, toast, and yogurt.

What Kind of Food Can You Eat With a Tracheostomy?

An assortment of Thick-It ready-to-serve puree dishes available at Personally DeliveredEating and swallowing patterns are usually not affected by having a tracheostomy. When you get your tracheostomy tube, you may be first started on a liquid or pureed diet. Once the tracheostomy tube is switched for a smaller size, swallowing is more comfortable. If there is a concern that your swallowing is impaired, nutrients will be administered through IV (an intravenous catheter placed in a vein) or a feeding tube.

Once you have healed from surgery, your doctor will inform you when it is safe to advance your diet to take in solids and liquids by mouth. At this time, a speech therapist will also help you learn how to swallow with a tracheostomy tube.

Certain factors may make swallowing difficult, such as:

  • Not having eaten for an extended period
  • Changes in the structure of your airway
  • The health condition that caused the tracheostomy in the first place

Tips for Eating and Swallowing

Here are a few tips that may help with swallowing problems:

  • Make sure to suction the tracheostomy tube before eating to prevent coughing while eating that could lead to throwing up.
  • If your tube has a cuff, ensure the cuff is deflated when you are getting ready to eat for easier swallowing.
  • Sit up as straight as possible when you eat.
  • Take small bites, chew food thoroughly, and swallow before taking another bite.
  • Keep mealtimes relaxed by planning them so that you are not in a hurry. Turn the tv off and put your cell phone away.

Common Terms Associated With a Tracheostomy?

Having a tracheostomy procedure done on you is a scary and life-changing event. However, it is a necessary procedure that will save your life. Thus, it is essential to know these terms and have an idea of terms that you will hear once you’ve had this procedure done.

Trach Tube – The tracheostomy tube or trach tube is a tube that is inserted into the trachea to provide a channel for air to pass through

Inner Cannula – A tracheostomy may or may not have an inner cannula, a liner that can be locked into place and then unlocked so it can be removed and cleaned.

Cuffed and Uncuffed Tracheostomy Tube – The cuff is a seal that inflates inside the trachea to block air from leaking around the tube. It forces all air going in and out of the lungs to go through the tube and stops saliva and other liquids from accidentally reaching the lungs.

  • A cuffed tube is often used when a patient is on a ventilator or needs help from a breathing machine. The healthcare team monitors the cuff pressure, and adjustments are made to the breathing machine as needed.
  • Uncuffed tubes are used for patients who do not need a ventilator or help from a breathing machine. With an uncuffed tube, some air can still flow around the tube and up through the trachea to the larynx.

Trach Cover – To prevent dust and dirt from accumulating, the trach tube is kept protected using a trach cover.

Trach Tube Holder, Collar, or Tie – Any of these three terms are used to describe devices that hold the tracheostomy tube in place. A trach tube holder or trach tube collar has a firmer hold while trach ties can be adjusted and are cheaper.

Purple Passy-Muir Low-Profile Tracheostomy and Ventilator Swallowing and Speaking ValvePassy Muir Valve – The Passy Muir valve helps the patient speak more normally and goes on the outside opening of the tracheostomy tube. It opens when air is breathed in and closes when air is breathed out. The Passy valve is also called a Passy-Muir speaking valve.

Stoma Shield Cover – The stoma shield cover is an essential protective device that guards the tracheostomy hole against water during showers.

Trach Heat Exchanger – This device heats and humidifies the air that comes into the trachea. A trach heat exchanger is an expensive approach to coping with dry air after tracheostomy surgery.

Tracheostomy Cleaning Tray – This is a single-use kit that includes everything needed to clean and prep the whole tracheostomy system. A complete tracheostomy tray should include latex gloves, gauzes, and other essential materials used to clean the entire system. It is a single-use kit.

Whether you’ll be having a tracheostomy temporarily or for life, it is essential to become acclimated with these devices to maintain yourself. Try to ask as many questions as possible while you are in the care of your doctor and nurses to help get as much information as possible before you head home.

For questions related to the tracheostomy supplies we carry, our Personally Delivered Product Experts are just a phone call away and ready to help.

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The Importance of Hydration with an Ostomy

black man drinking a bottle of water while outside exercising

Hydration with an ostomy can have its challenges. There are many benefits to staying well hydrated in general, but it is especially important for those with an ostomy. Every biological function of your body relies on the body being properly hydrated. You’ll concentrate better, your skin will retain elasticity, wounds will heal quicker, and staying hydrated will help your digestive system function properly. The body’s ability to absorb water is often compromised after ostomy surgery, so staying hydrated is vital for all aspects of your health and well-being during this time.

Why Hydration is Important in General

person pouring water into a glass from a stainless steel pitcherBecause water plays a vital role in the proper function of the human body, we are dependent on it. The human body is made up of 60% water, so we rely on it to:

  • Keep our eyes, nose, and mouth tissues moist
  • Regulate our body temperature
  • Lubricate our joints
  • Help prevent constipation
  • Help lessen the burden on our kidneys by flushing out waste
  • Carry nutrients and oxygen to cells throughout the body
  • Help dissolve minerals and nutrients to make them accessible to the body

When it comes to staying hydrated, it is different for everyone. It depends on the size and weight of an individual, the environment they are in, their overall health, whether they are pregnant, or a variety of other situations. By staying hydrated, you can potentially prevent health complications further down the road. Your doctor should be able to help determine how much water you need to drink daily or refer you to a specialist that can further assist.

Why Hydration Is Even More Important with an Ostomy

When you undergo ostomy surgery such as a colostomy or ileostomy, the large or small intestine is diverted and its ability to absorb nutrients and electrolytes is compromised. Therefore, those that have had ostomy surgery are more likely to face dehydration and inadequate electrolyte levels.

Some water is absorbed in the small intestine, but most of it is absorbed in the large intestine, referred to as the colon. Because of this, staying hydrated with an ostomy can be difficult. Most colostomies and ileostomies result from a disease in the large or small intestines.

  • When a colostomy is performed, the stoma is created by using the large intestine (colon) and bringing it out to the surface of the skin to divert the removal of waste at this new opening. Water absorption is sometimes limited to the small intestine depending on the location of the colostomy, making proper hydration difficult.
  • When an ileostomy is performed, the stoma is created out of the last part of the small intestine and bringing that out to the surface of the skin to create a new opening. Water absorption is then limited to the first two parts of the small intestine, contributing to the risk of quicker dehydration.

assortment of Sqwincher hydration products making a splashBoth of these surgeries require someone to pay close attention to hydration with an ostomy. Ostomy patients must ensure that they have an adequate intake of fluids to keep their electrolyte levels up so they do not start to suffer from dehydration symptoms such as dizziness or dry mouth. If signs of dehydration appear, consuming a drink containing electrolytes such as Sqwincher beverages can give a boost, but if hydration is a persistent problem, your doctor should be contacted immediately.

The Role of Electrolytes in Staying Hydrated

Electrolytes come from the foods you eat and the fluids you drink. They contribute to the proper balance of fluids in the body and they maintain the blood’s pH level. Electrolytes are minerals like sodium, potassium, and chloride that carry electrical signals to power our nerves and muscles. These minerals carry an electric charge when they are in a fluids like water that we drink.

Electrolytes play an important role to help our bodies properly function. Those roles include:

  • Heartbeat regulation
  • Body temperature control
  • Muscle contractions
  • Bladder control
  • Energy production
  • Neurological functions

Simply put, electrolytes are the minerals responsible for directing water to those areas in your body that need it most. They help us maintain fluid balance throughout our bodies which helps us stay properly hydrated, ensuring our bodies can function well overall.

Symptoms of Dehydration

Many people may find it difficult to stay hydrated with an ostomy and find themselves to be chronically dehydrated every day. They might suffer from daily headaches, lethargy, dizziness, or persistent muscle cramps. However, one of the best indicators of dehydration is simply the color of your urine. The darker the urine, the more likely fluid intake is too low.

urine color chartSome of the most common symptoms of dehydration are:

  • Persistent headaches or migraines
  • Lethargy
  • Feeling dizzy, shaky, or weak
  • Nausea
  • Heart palpitations
  • Thirst and dry mouth
  • Decreased urine output and/or darker colored urine
  • Leg or muscle cramps
  • Poor concentration
  • Constipation or bloating

If you are suffering from any of the above symptoms, your body is probably letting you know that you need to increase your fluid intake. As always, if these symptoms are affecting your daily life or are persistent, contact your doctor.

Tips to Stay Hydrated with an Ostomy

So we know that hydration with an ostomy is super important, but what are some ways that we can be sure we are getting the electrolytes and nutrition we need while also making sure these options are healthy?

Plain old water is good for hydration but alone, it is not the best source. Consumed by itself naturally, water doesn’t contain the salts and sugars necessary for hydration. When you’re using electrolytes for hydration, you’ll want to choose a drink that offers a good balance of electrolytes and healthy carbohydrates. An electrolyte drink that contains a lot of sugar can lead to further dehydration and end up defeating the purpose.

Pedialyte clearSome fluids that can help you stay hydrated with an ostomy:

  • Coconut water
  • Vegetable juices like V8
  • Sqwincher products or other low sugar electrolyte drinks
  • Pedialyte
  • Homemade oral solutions such as 200 mL Squash concentrate and 5mL of salt. Just sip throughout the day.

 

 

Not only are oral hydration solutions great for hydration with an ostomy, but consuming foods that have high water content are also important.

Some foods that are high in water content are:

  • Watermelon
  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Apples
  • Jell-O
  • Yogurts
  • Smoothies

Some additional tips for hydration with an ostomy:

  • Drink fluids slowly so your body can properly absorb them.
  • Try to eat first, then drink fluids. This helps with fluid absorption.
  • Carry a water bottle and make sure you refill it when necessary.
  • Try infusing water with fruits, or try making your own smoothies.
  • Talk to your doctor about adding Imodium or Metamucil to your diet.

It is very important to pay close attention to signs that you may be becoming dehydrated when you have an ostomy. Always remember to contact your doctor if your symptoms are persistent or if you are struggling with hydration with an ostomy.

For any questions about the products that we carry that may be helpful, please contact one of our Personally Delivered Product Experts and they will be happy to help.

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Managing Diarrhea with a Stoma

woman holding her stomach in discomfort for the blog cover of managing diarrhea with a stoma

Most people will experience an episode of diarrhea in their lives, and that isn’t a fun time for anyone. For those with an ileostomy or colostomy, this is no exception. Loss of fluids and electrolytes is common for those with an ostomy, and having diarrhea with a stoma can be dangerous since this leads to dehydration.

What is Diarrhea?

Diarrhea is characterized by sudden loose or watery bowel movements and can be accompanied by abdominal pain, cramps, nausea, and even a fever. If you have a colostomy or ileostomy, episodes of diarrhea with a stoma are possible. Some people with an ileostomy have watery or loose stool most of the time.  There are many possible causes for diarrhea, but there are several ways to help manage diarrhea with an ostomy, so that’s the good news!

Diarrhea can pose some complications for those with an ileostomy or colostomy such as:

  • Diarrhea can clog ostomy pouch filters.
  • Diarrhea can cause more leaks, odors, embarrassing noises, and gases to release.
  • Diarrhea erodes the wafer, resulting in frequent wafer changes.
  • Diarrhea can cause you to empty or change your ostomy pouch more often, which can be unpleasant and messy.
  • Diarrhea could lead to dehydration since nutrients are not being properly absorbed.

Common Causes of Diarrhea

Diarrhea with a stoma can be caused by several different factors. It is important to take note of your diet, medications, stress levels, and overall health to determine what the culprit could be. Then, with some simple adjustments, you can hopefully gain control of producing more regular bowel movements.

Here are a few of the more common causes of diarrhea with an ileostomy or colostomy:

Diet

The consistency of your stoma’s output can be drastically changed by the foods and beverages you consume. Usually, within an hour or two after consumption of certain foods, you will be able to identify what it was that set off your symptoms. Often, the foods and beverages that are identified as the cause of your diarrhea are not actually needed for a healthy diet and can be eliminated.  You might find other benefits from cutting out these unnecessary culprits. We’ll discuss diet in further detail later.

Medications and Supplements

Some medications or supplements can cause diarrhea with a stoma for various reasons. Antibiotics are used to kill bacteria in the body, and some of that can be the healthy bacteria that help with digestion. Any over-the-counter medicine that contains magnesium or calcium can also cause diarrhea since these minerals work to relax the digestive tract and neutralize stomach acids. For those that may be undergoing cancer treatment, chemotherapy disrupts how the small intestine breaks down food, which may also cause diarrhea. 

Blockage

When you aren’t seeing much movement from your stoma or it appears larger than normal, you might be experiencing an obstruction or blockage. When the body attempts to flush out the blockage, sometimes a watery or liquid stool is experienced. As the intestines continuously try to push contents through the blockage, symptoms usually follow such as abdominal pain, nausea, and possibly vomiting. Note: If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, contact your doctor as soon as possible.

Dietary Impact on Diarrhea with a Stoma

Most of the time, by simply modifying your diet, you can start managing your diarrhea with a stoma. Drinking enough fluids throughout the day and paying attention to the meals you eat can help. Since diarrhea is watery, you’ll want to incorporate some foods that will thicken up your output from your ileostomy or colostomy.

The following foods are suggested to thicken ileostomy or colostomy output:Pedialyte electrolyte replenishment drink

  • Starchy foods like noodles, white rice, potatoes, and white bread
  • Crackers and pretzels
  • Marshmallows
  • Applesauce
  • Under-ripe bananas
  • Nut butters (peanut, almond, etc)
  • Yogurt
  • Oatmeal

It is also important to remind yourself that fluid intake is critical. Replacing electrolytes that are lost when you have diarrhea with a stoma is essential for proper hydration. Drinking beverages such as Pedialyte or Sqwincher products can be a great way to get ahead of potential dehydration.

If you suspect food poisoning or another bacterial cause of your diarrhea, you’ll want to contact a medical professional.

Foods to Avoid When Experiencing Diarrhea with a Stoma

If you consume certain foods and beverages and then notice a dramatic change in your output’s consistency, you’ll want to take note of them and avoid or cut them out of your diet altogether.

Some of the foods and beverages that are suggested to avoid to prevent diarrhea with a stoma are:

Foods to Avoid During Episodes

  • Coffee or tea
  • Alcohol
  • Spicy foods
  • Dairy
  • High-fiber foods
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Soda
  • Fruit juices
  • Chocolate
  • Fried foods

Foods That May Cause Odor

  • Seafood
  • Garlic
  • Eggs
  • Alcohol
  • Asparagus
  • Spices such as curry, cumin, & chili

Foods That May Produce Gas

  • Dairy
  • Beans
  • Carbonated drinks (including beer)
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Brussel sprouts

Sometimes a bit of trial and error is needed to find out what works for you. High fiber foods can cause blockage, and the skins of some fruits and vegetables can be difficult to digest. To get the nutrition needed from these types of foods and beverages, there are alternatives that are easier to digest offered by Thick-It, Nestle, and Abbott Nutrition.

Other Suggestions for Managing Diarrhea with a Stoma

Gelling Agents

Specifically designed to absorb ostomy pouch contents, these products are a popular choice for those with an ileostomy or colostomy. These are typically a packet of granules that is dropped into a new or clean ostomy pouch. As the pouch fills with output, the packet dissolves, and the granules form a thick gel that stays at the bottom of the pouch and away from the stoma. These gelling agents can come in granules, tablets, powder, or capsules, but they all work in the same fashion.

Nutritional Supplements

There are several nutritional supplements on the market today that are formulated to deliver the vitamins and minerals needed without dairy and sugar. Novasource Renal Nutritional Support Formula contains optimized electrolyte content and is an excellent nutritionally complete product that is also lactose- and gluten-free. The Hormel FiberBasics line of beverages contains 3 grams of fiber to promote bowel regularity and are another great option to help manage diarrhea with a stoma. Just be careful with the amount of fiber intake as you do not want to end up with a blockage.

Consider a High Output Ostomy Pouch

SUR FIT Natura® Two Piece High Output PouchHigh output ostomy pouches are designed to better manage liquid output and are able to hold larger capacities of stoma output. The SUR-FIT Natura Two-Piece Ostomy System by ConvaTec is a perfect example of a simple design that features a removable filter to reduce pouch ballooning while neutralizing odor and an anti-reflux valve that decreases liquid output backflow. This high output ostomy pouch easily drains high liquid output and users can change the pouch quickly without the need to remove the skin barrier.

Managing diarrhea with a stoma is possible and there are options. Although we offer suggestions, it is always a good idea to speak to your physician to determine what is the best treatment plan for you.

For any questions related to the products we have mentioned or any other home delivery medical supplies we carry, give us a call. One of our Personally Delivered Product Experts will be happy to speak to you.

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Cystic Fibrosis and Urinary Incontinence

incontinence pad featured on the cover of blog post about cystic fibrosis and urinary incontinence

Cystic fibrosis is a rare, progressive, and hereditary disorder that affects the lungs, digestive system, and other important organs. The cells in the body that are responsible for producing sweat, digestive juices, and mucus become very thick and clog up necessary pathways in the body. A person with cystic fibrosis often experiences lung infections, weight loss, gastrointestinal disorders that affect bowel movements, and chronic coughing that often leads to urinary incontinence.

Cystic Fibrosis and Urinary Incontinence

When urine unintentionally leaks from the bladder, it is called urinary incontinence. Urinary incontinence is a condition that anyone can get, not just those with cystic fibrosis. However, studies have shown that it is common for those with cystic fibrosis to develop incontinence, especially young adult women. It is important to note that just because a person has cystic fibrosis does not mean they are sure to have urinary incontinence. Awareness is key and having the information to be prepared is beneficial.

Chronic Coughing and the Pelvic Floor

woman suffering from Cystic Fibrosis and Urinary Incontinence coughingBecause those with cystic fibrosis experience frequent coughing episodes, the muscles that control the bladder may become weak, causing the inability to control urination. This type of urinary incontinence is referred to as stress incontinence due to repeated coughing putting stress on the bladder. Under normal conditions, the bladder muscles work to hold urine until you are ready to use the restroom. When a person has a chronic cough, pressure is put on the bladder, causing the pelvic floor muscles to suddenly relax. This relaxation results in unexpected leakage of urine. The pelvic floor muscles need to contract when a person coughs in order to prevent leakage, and with the persistent and prolonged coughing a person with cystic fibrosis experiences, these muscles sometimes are just unable to keep up.

Controlled coughing may help control the pelvic floor muscles and help minimize or even prevent leakage. The following short video shows the technique of clearing your cough to protect the pelvic floor.

cover of video showing how to clear your cough to protect your pelvic floor

What Can Make Urinary Incontinence Worse?

There are some conditions that can contribute to worsening urinary incontinence in those that are affected by Cystic fibrosis.

Gastrointestinal Problems

Constipation or hard, bulky stools can make urinary incontinence worse by putting pressure on the bladder. Many nerves in this area are shared and become overactive when a person is constantly straining. This can lead to stress incontinence and result in leakage. Medications are usually recommended to treat these problems and can improve the symptoms of urinary incontinence.

Urinary Tract Infections

When bacteria enters the bladder,  a urinary tract infection occurs. This can be a very painful experience, especially when you have strong urges to urinate and only release a little bit each time.  A urinary tract infection can contribute to urinary incontinence and is also usually treated with medication your doctor can prescribe.

Cystic Fibrosis-Related Diabetes

The excessive mucus buildup in those with cystic fibrosis results in scarring of the pancreas and the normal production of insulin stops. This scarring blocks enzymes that play an important role in the digestion of food and the proper breakdown of nutrients. One of the common symptoms of cystic fibrosis-related diabetes is urinary incontinence. If left untreated, this disorder can make urinary incontinence worse because of the frequent need to urinate. Speak with your doctor if you’re experiencing urinary incontinence and whether you should be screened for this condition.

What Help is Available?

Speaking to others about urinary incontinence is not something most people want to do and can be embarrassing. The fact is, when symptoms related to cystic fibrosis are left untreated, they can only get worse and lead to even bigger problems. It is important to make your doctor aware of any problems you are experiencing right awayarray of incontinence pads

Your doctor may suggest the use of appropriate incontinence pads that can help with your leakage. There are various types of incontinence pads and different levels of absorbencies available to manage your leakage and protect your clothing and bed. It is also a wise idea to be prepared for a larger leak just in case.

boost plus balanced nutritional beverageIf you have been screened for Cystic fibrosis-related diabetes, your doctor may suggest you maintain a high-protein, high-calorie diet to make sure you stay at a healthy body weight. There are many nutritional options available that deliver the fat, protein, and calories required and manage glucose levels for a complete and balanced diet.

Your doctor may refer you to a physical therapist or urologist that specializes in the treatment of urinary incontinence related to Cystic fibrosis. They may order some specific tests that can help guide treatment and can also help show you how to properly exercise and strengthen your pelvic floor muscles to reduce the symptoms.

Urinary incontinence, specifically stress incontinence, is a very common symptom in those that have Cystic fibrosis. Always remember to speak to your doctor immediately about the symptoms you are experiencing. If you have any questions about the products we carry, our Personally Delivered Product Experts are just a phone call away and ready to help.

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Wound Treatment: An In-Depth Look

a hand wrapped in white gauze

Wound treatment is vital in the healing process. Whether you have a wound that is from recent surgery, pressure or dermal ulcer, or injury, choosing the right wound care products and supplies to treat your wound can aid in the time it takes to heal. Not only will the right wound care products help promote faster healing, but they can also help reduce the chances of infection, potential scarring, and help prevent the wound from becoming chronic. Proper wound treatment is essential for healing.

Wound Healing Process

The healing process of a wound follows a series of 4 stages and if any of the stages are interrupted, the wound may fail to properly heal. The 4 stages of normal wound healing include:

  • Hemostasis Stage – In this first phase of wound healing happens as the body tries to make the wound site stable and stop any bleeding. In order for that to happen, the blood vessels at the wound site constrict to prevent blood from draining while platelets come together to form a stable clot.icon of a gash on the shin of a leg
  • Inflammatory stage –  This defensive second stage allows the body to remove any debris at the wound site and destroy bacteria. Once the blood clot is formed, blood vessels expand to allow maximum blood flow to the wound, which is the reason a wound initially may feel warm and look red. White blood cells enter the wound site and begin to destroy bacteria and other foreign bodies. As this takes place, skin cells multiply, and the tissue repair process begins as a scab is formed.
  • Proliferative stage – During the third phase, the goal is to repair the damage that has occurred. New blood vessels begin to form as collagen, a protein fiber starts to grow and fill the wound. The growth of collagen pulls the margins of the wound inward, eventually closing the wound. This new skin at the wound site is then delivered blood by the new small blood vessels that have formed.
  • Maturation stage – The final and fourth stage of the wound healing process involves gaining strength in the new tissue as the body continues to add more collagen and refine the wound site. Depending on the wound, this final process may take months or even years. Scars tend to fade with time, which is why long term wound treatment is necessary well after the wound appears to be healed.

Factors That Slow the Wound Healing Process

  • Dead Skin Cells – It is important to keep the wound site clean to remove any dead skin cells and debris that can interfere with the wound healing process.
  • Infection – If bacteria enters the wound site, infection occurs, and the body fights the infection rather than trying to heal the wound.
  • Immobility – If a person is confined to their bed because of immobility, they are more at risk for developing bedsores (also known as pressure sores) because of reduced blood circulation. Treating these types of wounds can be more difficult since they are usually exposed to constant pressure and friction.
  • Nutrition – Since the skin is the largest organ of the body, a healthy diet is important to give the body the nutrients it needs to heal the wound, such as vitamin C and protein.
  • Medical Conditions – Diabetes, anemia, and some vascular diseases can cause poor blood flow to the wound site, therefore hindering the wound healing process.
  • Age – Since everything slows down as we age, wounds tend to take longer to heal. Thinning of the skin makes it more fragile and there is also a decreased inflammatory response in elderly people.person pouring pills from a prescription bottle into their hand
  • Medications – Certain medical conditions require specific medications. Some of the medications used in the management of some medical conditions may interfere with one of the necessary stages during the wound healing process.
  • Smoking – We know that smoking isn’t good for our overall health, but it impairs the healing process by lowering the level of oxygen in the blood, which is vital for wound healing.
  • Skin Dryness – Wounds require a moist environment in order for the skin and immune cells to do their job in the wound healing process. Wounds that are dried out and exposed to air are more at risk for infection and less likely to heal. The body can focus on healing the wound rather than protecting it when it is in a moist environment.

Wound Treatment Tips & Suggestions

Wash Your Hands

Bacteria and debris contribute to infection, so washing your hands with antibacterial soap before ever touching a wound is the first and most important step in the wound treatment process.

Cleaning Your Wound

Before applying any wound care dressing, it is important to carefully clean the site. Not only will cleaning the wound help prevent infection, but it can also speed up the complete healing process. You can follow these simple steps to properly clean a wound:SAF-Cleans AF wound treatment cleanser

  1. Rinse, wash, and remove debris  A variety of wound care cleansers are available to effectively irrigate and wash away any bacteria and debris from the wound site.
  2. Gently dry and apply an antibiotic –  Pat the wound site dry and then opt for one of these wound treatment products that will help maintain the skin’s pH balance and work to prevent infection.
  3. Apply a wound care dressing – A sterile wound care dressing keeps the wound protected and are offered in a variety of shapes and sizes to accommodate the most irregularly shaped wounds and their locations on the body. Choosing the right wound care dressing can also determine how well your wound heals.

Replace Wound Care Dressings

A wound that is left uncovered and exposed to the air is at greater risk of infection, which can also lead to unnecessary pain because of the dried out cells on the surface. Using a sterile bandage or gauze to cover the wound after cleaning is important, but so is replacing it frequently enough. A wound care dressing should be replaced as often as required to keep the wound leakage from seeping through the dressing.

Stay Hydrated & Eat a Healthy DietPro-Stat Sugar-free Wild Cherry Punch nutritional supplement

Hydrated skin is healthy skin and that facilitates the wound healing process. Your body heals most efficiently when it feels its best, so try to maintain a healthy diet. By incorporating foods that are high in protein and Vitamin C into your diet, you may be increasing the wound healing process. There are also nutritional supplements that can be taken as an alternate option for getting those nutrients and their added benefits.

Try a Topical Wound Treatment

MEDIHONEY wound treatment gelApplying a topical wound treatment can ease some of the pain that is often associated with wounds. A wound treatment product that contains aloe such as Cardinal Health’s Amorphous Hydrogel can help soothe your symptoms. Another great topical wound treatment is the use of honey. MEDIHONEY Products assist the healing process by lowering the pH of wounds, therefore promoting better healing.

Compression Therapy

Offered as an effective way to improve blood flow, vascular compression products are often suggested for use by a physician when referring to wound treatment options. Compression therapy can work well for those with venous ulcers to limit swelling around the wound and prevent blood clots, thus speeding up the wound healing process. a roll of compression wrap for wound treatment therapy

You should always consult with your doctor before purchasing a compression product as there are varying levels of compression that could do more harm than good.

Remember, proper wound treatment is essential for healing. You should always get your doctor’s opinion to determine what the best wound treatment plan is for your specific needs. If your wound is considerably deep or shows signs of serious infection, don’t attempt your wound treatment on your own.

You can get the wound care products and supplies delivered right to your door when you place your order with us. Even better, you can save 5% on your orders when you opt-in to our automatic delivery option. There is no commitment, and you can cancel at any time. Just choose the frequency you would like your wound care products to arrive, and we will take care of the rest.

For any questions about the wide array of wound care products we offer, we are just a phone call away. One of our Personally Delivered Product Experts will be happy to speak to you.

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The Importance of Hygiene

Practicing good hygiene has a wealth of benefits, including reducing your chances for illnesses, diseases, and infections. Plus, there is absolutely no risk for practicing good hygiene! The importance of hygiene can be a difficult topic to discuss, but it doesn’t have to be. Caring about your wellbeing should be one of the most important practices for a long, happy, and healthy life. We care about your wellbeing, so we are going to discuss some of the things you can do to maintain good hygiene and cleanliness.

How Good Hygiene Affects You

Practicing good hygiene is beneficial to your overall  physical and mental health and more than just being clean. Keeping your entire body clean from head to toe not only helps prevent illnesses and infections from harmful bacteria, but it can give your self-esteem a boost. We tend to feel better when we take care of ourselves. There are many personal hygiene habits to incorporate into your everyday routine to make sure you keep yourself and the environment around you hygienic.

Types of Personal Hygiene

Hand Hygiene

hand-washing hygiene in the kitchenWashing your hands is one of the easiest habits to practice to prevent the spread of germs to your eyes, mouth, food, as well as to those around you. Any time you handle food, garbage, pet an animal, sneeze, or use the restroom, you should wash your hands. Follow the 5-step rule for washing hands:

  1. Wet – Get your hands wet with clean water.
  2. Lather – Apply soap to your hands and work up a lather.
  3. Scrub – For at least 20 seconds, scrub your hands.
  4. Rinse – With clean water, rinse your hands free of the soap lather.
  5. Dry – Use either a towel or air dry your hands.

If you do not have a water source, you can also choose to use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Oral Hygiene

By brushing and flossing your teeth, you are helping to prevent gum disease, cavities, and bad breath. You should practice brushing your teeth twice a day; once in the morning and once at night. Adding an antimicrobial mouthwash to your routine can also help reduce the number of bacteria in the mouth and prevent tooth decay. It is suggested to replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months and visit a dentist for routine cleanings every 6 months.

Here is a handy infographic about brushing your teeth: Brushing-Your-Teeth

Nail Hygiene

woman painting her nails for maintaining nail hygieneKeeping your nails clean helps prevent the spread of germs into your mouth and other areas of the body. Trimming your nails regularly to make sure there aren’t any sharp edges or hangnails and using a nail file to smooth them keeps fingernails looking nice. Using a soft nail brush or washcloth can also help remove and rinse any dirt or buildup underneath the nail. Refraining from biting your nails and picking at the cuticles is necessary for good nail hygiene. If you use nail polish remover, try opting for an acetone-free formula.

Body/Skin/Hair Hygiene

Taking a shower or bath is essential to wash away dead skin cells, bacteria, and oils. The skin is the largest organ of the body and contains 2 layers. The thin outer layer is made up of dead skin cells that are constantly shed and replaced by new cells. The thick inner layer is made up of blood vessels, nerves, and hair follicles that contain glands. These glands produce an oily substance called sebum, which helps the skin and hair from drying out. Washing your body and hair daily removes dirt, oil, and those dead skin cells before they can accumulate. Make sure to pay attention to your armpits, groin, ears, elbows, back, and feet. All-in-one no-rinse alternatives such as the DermaRite 4-N-1 No-Rinse Wash are also handy for frequent cleansing.

Foot Hygiene

Fungal organisms love moisture, so keeping feet clean and dry will help prevent them from thriving. Our feet have sweat glands, too! Wear socks to trapping away moisture and make sure that your shoes fit properly. Trimming your toenails and using a nail file to smooth the edges helps to avoid ingrown toenails and allows you to check them for any infections, sores, or discoloration of the nails. Examining your feet is an important part of personal hygiene, especially if you have diabetes since it increases the risk of foot sores and infections.

Food Hygiene

male and female chefs preparing food in the kitchen In order to prevent food-borne illness, certain food safety practices are used when handling, preparing, and storing food. Spoiled or rotten food can smell, however not all harmful bacteria have a scent. Making sure to clean your hands before handling food, cooking food to the proper temperature, and storing food promptly are ways to practice good food hygiene. When using a cutting board, make sure to sanitize it after every use. Wooden and plastic cutting boards are porous and bacteria can lurk behind in grooves made by a knife. Keeping hair up and out of the face prevents it from landing in food and wearing an apron protects your clothing from coming in contact with the food.

Clothing Hygiene

Dirty clothes, especially socks and underwear, can harbor microorganisms that can lead to skin infections. Not washing your clothing can have an impact on your overall health. Body odor can arise from stains on clothing that bacteria accumulate on. Fungi and bacteria thrive in warm, moist, and dark environments, causing bad smells and other conditions such as athlete’s foot. Not only should you wash your clothes, but you also need to remember to wash your bathroom and kitchen towels regularly as well. To avoid cross-contamination, try not to share towels and clothing.

Side Effects of Poor Hygiene

Poor personal hygiene can have minor side effects, but can also lead to more serious ones. Here are just a few of the side effects from poor personal hygiene.

  • You can transfer germs and other harmful bacteria to your eyes and mouth by not washing your hands. Issues such as pink eye and stomach viruses happen as a result of not routinely washing your hands.
  • Not brushing your teeth regularly can lead to plaque buildup causing cavities, gum disease, and other teeth issues, not to mention bad breath. Some research has also shown a link between gum disease and heart disease.
  • You can get Athlete’s Foot if you often walk around barefoot, especially in public areas where infection can spread such as swimming pools, shower areas, and locker rooms. This is a contagious fungal infection that thrives in moist environments and can spread to the toenails and hands.
  • Body odor and greasy hair are also side effects of poor personal hygiene. Maintaining a good cleansing routine will help keep you looking and feeling fresh, giving you a sense of pride in your appearance. Those around you will appreciate it, too.
  • Bacteria breeds in unclean environments such as the kitchen and dining areas, therefore leading to contamination of food. It is imperative to wash your hands prior to preparing food to keep bacteria from entering our bodies. Make sure to clean up and properly store leftovers, taking note of expiration dates. You could end up with diarrhea or even food poisoning if food is not correctly handled.

Choosing the Right Personal Hygiene Products

Depending on the situation, there are many different kinds of personal hygiene products available for a variety of needs. Almost all toiletries and cleaning supplies come in multiple sizes and formulas. There are specific personal hygiene products on the market for those with limited mobility, are traveling, or do not have access to a water supply.

Rinse-free Body Washes

All-in-one body washes such as the ConvaTec Aloe Vesta Shampoo and Body Wash gently and effectively cleanses, conditions, and deodorizes when there is no accessible water source. These formulas serve the need of bed ridden patients and the elderly where rinsing is difficult. Most can be used anywhere on the body, including perineal areas since they are non-irritating and alcohol-free. This type of product is great for traveling and camping as well.

Personal Cleansing Wipes

Aloe Vesta Bathing ClothsPersonal cleansing wipes are great for the entire body. Since they come in convenient tubs or pouches, they are easy to transport on-the-go. You can quickly and conveniently use these personal wipes to cleanse your hands, as a facial wipe, to disinfect a surface, or even as a substitute for toilet paper. Look for wipes that are pH-balanced, alcohol-free, fragrance-free, and contain aloe to soothe the skin such as the ConvaTec Aloe Vesta Bathing Cloths. These wipes are large, easy-to-use, rinse-free, and disposable, making them a great choice for everyday use as well as for travel.

Hand Sanitizers

Hand sanitizers act quickly to kill 99% of microorganisms on the hands and can be less irritating than soap and water. They are effective against both bacteria and viruses and come in a variety of sizes suitable for travel and larger group settings. Some even contain Vitamin E and Aloe to moisturize as they disinfect such as McKesson’s Premium Hand Sanitizer. In order for hand sanitizers to work effectively, make sure to choose one that contains at least 60% alcohol.

Bed Pads and Underpads

Covidien Simplicity Basic UnderpadProtecting your mattress, chair, car seat, and couch with a hygiene product like a bed pad or underpad can help trap leaks during the day and night if you suffer from incontinence. There are reusable protective bed pads such as the Birdseye Reusable Soaker Underpad and there are also disposable bed pads such as the Covidien Simplicity Basic Underpad. Reusable bad pads are typically more expensive and made of a washable material, but you may save more money long-term. On the other hand, disposable bed pads are meant for single-use, which means you will use more of them. Choosing a bed pad or underpad that has a waterproof outer edge and flaps to tuck in for security can help you feel comfortable and protected day or night. Did you know that you can also use bed pads and underpads for potty training pets?

Caring for yourself is good for both your physical health and your mental health. Maintaining a hygienic lifestyle is important to prevent and control illnesses. Getting into a good personal hygiene routine may be difficult for some and might take some patience and practice, but it is worth every effort. You should speak to your doctor if you are having a hard time adapting to good personal hygiene habits.

For any questions about the personal hygiene products we carry or need guidance on how to use them, our Personally Delivered Product Experts are just a phone call away and happy to help.

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Diet Tips After Ostomy Surgery

Are you nervous about what you can eat after having ostomy surgery? Are you wondering if there are certain foods you should avoid? Are there any dietary restrictions that you should follow? We have a few diet tips and suggestions for you here to help clear up any worries.

Diet Tips for the 3 Types of Stomas

A stoma is an opening on the abdomen that is attached to your urinary or digestive tract to allow waste to be redirected out of the body. There are 3 main types of stomas: colostomy, ileostomy, and urostomy. Here are a few suggestions about your diet after each type of ostomy surgery.

Colostomy Diet Tips

When part of the colon is affected by a disease or if it is not working properly, a colostomy may be performed. The large intestine is disconnected from the rectum and rerouted to the abdominal wall as a new opening, called a stoma. A colostomy pouch is then attached to the stoma and is used to collect output which is then disposed of. A colostomy can be temporary to give the colon rest after surgery or it can be permanent if the person suffers from a disease such as cancer.

After a colostomy, a person may be more likely to become constipated. It is important to drink plenty of fluids such as water throughout the day to avoid constipation. Eating slowly and thoroughly chewing food will help with digestion and exercising regularly may keep you on a regular schedule. With a colostomy, there aren’t any dietary restrictions, but you may be more sensitive to foods right after surgery. It is recommended to try new foods in small portions to see if they affect you. Keeping a food journal will help you find if anythng doesn’t agree with you. Maintaining a healthy diet is always a good habit.

Ileostomy Diet Tips

person pouring water into a glass from a stainless steel pitcherWhen an ileostomy is performed, the lowest part of the small intestine is disconnected from the large intestine and rerouted to the abdominal wall to form a stoma. This procedure can also be temporary when surgery was performed on part of the large intestine and this allows it to rest for a bit. An ileostomy may be permanent if the large intestine and rectum have been removed due to disease.

With an ileostomy, intake of more fluids than normal is very important. Normally, the stool thickens as it passes through the large intestine since this is where fiber is digested. In this case, the small intestine is doing all the work, so the output will be less solid. It is also important to limit foods high in fiber to avoid blockage since the large intestine is missing from the digestive process. Chewing your food well and sticking to small frequent meals throughout the day can also help to regulate the function of your stoma and result in less frequent changes of your ileostomy pouch.

Urostomy Diet Tips

cranberry juice sitting in a bed of cranberries in a wooden boxWhen a person has bladder cancer, a birth defect, or a serious spinal cord injury, a urostomy may be necessary due to the bladder either not functioning normally or having to be removed. The ureters are detached from the bladder and then reattached to a small piece of the bowel that has been removed. That piece of the bowel is then attached to the abdominal wall that redirects urine from the kidneys and into a bag.

As with the other 2 types of ostomy surgeries, it is important to get the necessary fluids to avoid the risk of a urinary tract or kidney infection. Continuously flushing the urinary system by taking in enough water, eating foods high in Vitamin C, and drinking cranberry juice can help. Studies have shown that cranberry juice works to fight against bacterial growth and has been effective in preventing urinary tract infections.

As you can see, after ostomy surgery there really aren’t that many specific changes you’ll need to make. To sum it up, the main suggestions that are common for all types of stoma surgeries are:

  1. Intake plenty of fluids.
  2. Chew your food well.
  3. Eat smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day.

Keep an eye on certain foods and beverages that may produce changes to the output or health of your stoma and always consult your doctor about any concerns.

For any questions about the ostomy products we carry for these types of ostomy surgeries, please give us a call and one of our Product Experts will be happy to discuss the options we offer.

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