Ostomy Resources: Ostomy Podcasts & Apps

Ostomy surgery is lifesaving, and many people who have an ileostomy or colostomy surgery due to ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease experience improved quality of life. There is a wide range of resources available in a variety of media formats. Information may be specific to the care and management of your ostomy, or it may be about the underlying disease or condition that resulted in your ostomy.

We have compiled a couple of lists of some popular ostomy podcasts and apps to help those with an ostomy and their families stay informed, help resolve needs, and listen to real stories and experiences from other ostomates.

Ostomy Podcasts

two women talking on a podcast

The Beautiful Bag

The Beautiful Bag is an ostomy podcast for anyone that might be having an ostomy in the future, those that have one, or anyone looking to learn more about what life with an ostomy is like. Each week, new guests on this podcast educate the listeners and share their stories about living life with an ostomy.

The Real Life Ostomy Podcast

This ostomy podcast is all about living life with an ostomy or those with bowel disease that may be having an ostomy in the future. A wealth of information is shared in each episode that includes tips and personal stories from real ostomates and their lives with an ostomy.

About IBD

The About IBD podcast includes input, opinions, and advice from patients, caregivers, and physicians on various topics related to inflammatory bowel disease (IBS). People living with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis (collectively known as inflammatory bowel disease) can listen to topics discussed, including nutrition, treatments, mental health, family dynamics, and sexuality, related to living with IBD.

Bowel and Bladder Matters Podcast

This ostomy podcast is by Coloplast delivers education about bowel and bladder issues related to ostomies and continence. This podcast includes conversations with thought leaders to gain insights about ostomies, continence, and clinicians’ professional growth and development.

Butts & Guts

This Cleveland Clinic ostomy podcast explores digestive and surgical health issues. It is hosted by Colorectal Surgery Chairman Scott Steele, MD. He discusses how to have to best digestive health possible from your gall bladder to your liver and beyond. Listen to hundreds of podcasts from medical doctors on topics that range from bariatric surgery, pelvic floor disorders, pediatric colorectal surgery, celiac disease, and more.

me+ Talk

ConvaTec launched an ostomy podcast called me+™ for people living with an ostomy. This podcast features “real talk” from nurses, product specialists, and community members covering all-things ostomy. There’s advice on post-surgery changes, tips for day-to-day living, mental wellness, intimacy, and more.

The Bottom End

The Bottom End podcast series discusses all things related to living with inflammatory bowel disease. This ostomy podcast features Crohn’s and Colitis ambassadors from Australia who share deeply personal stories about their journeys with IBD and living with an ostomy.

The Ostomy Guy Podcast

This inspiring ostomy podcast is hosted by Austin Powers, an ostomate that addresses issues people face living with a chronic illness. He has dozens of interviews with guests about living with a chronic illness and how they wake up each day and live useful lives within their communities. The goal of Austin’s podcast is to bring people together and learn from one another.

Ostomy Apps

person holding mobile phone with apps

Me+ Ostomy Care

The Me+ Ostomy Care App is a convenient way to be a part of a community of other ostomates while staying informed about new and inventive ways of living with an ostomy. This digital platform helps those with an ostomy find solutions to unmet needs and improve the experience of living with an ostomy. Through Me+™app, ConvaTec provides support to clinicians and caregivers, as well as comprehensive solutions for ostomates.

OstoBuddy

The OstoBuddy ostomy app allows ostomates to keep track of their ostomy supply inventory, set reminders for ostomy system changes, and keep track of output and consistency. This app for ostomates saves time and is a great advantage when keeping track of ostomy supplies so you won’t run into emergencies.

Ostomy 101

The Ostomy 101 app is free on Apple IOS & Android devices and provides all the tools and resources necessary for living a successful life with an ostomy. This non-profit app includes:

  • Ostomy surgeries explained
  • Clinician led ostomy education videos offered in both English & Spanish
  • Telemedicine appointments with a Certified Ostomy Nurse (WOCN)
  • Ostomy lifestyle videos, blogs, & podcasts
  • Free manufacturer samples & coupons
  • Ostomy pouches & accessories
  • Free recovery programs
  • Free virtual support groups, classes, & events
  • And more!

Ozzi Ostomy

The Ozzi Ostomy app helps ostomates take control of their lives while living with an ostomy. This app makes it easy to track ostomy and urine output and set up personalized notifications to manage hydration. The app will send notifications based on the previous day’s entries by entering the amount of stool and urine you void throughout the day. The personalized messages may include increasing your fluids, taking stool thickening medications, or suggest medical attention if your entries are concerning. The Oxxi Ostomy app can replace a bladder or bowel diary and help you simplify your life with an ostomy.

Stoma Steps

The Stoma Steps app is designed to help support and guide you through your ostomy journey. This app provides encouragement and advice as it helps assist you in preparing for and adjusting to life with a stoma. Stoma steps takes the process one step at a time to make it easy and less stressful for those going through or recovering from recent stoma surgery. The Stoma Steps app will guide you through the weeks to come at a comfortable pace for you.

Stoma Steps provides articles relevant to your journey stage, tips on managing your stoma, and tools to enable you to video a pouch change with your nurse.  You can make notes such as fluid intake, sleep patterns, and how you are feeling. There is also access to a community chat where ostomates can share experiences and information. This safe space helps provide the support you may need when adjusting to life with an ostomy.

While this does not represent a complete list of resources available to those with ostomies and their families, the ones listed may provide a starting point for your exploration for help and information.

Adjusting to life with a stoma can be a scary and overwhelming time, and you may feel like you need more support and guidance than ever. Being well informed on what to expect at each stage of your journey will help you to make any necessary adjustments and progress confidently with your recovery. Hopefully, some of these resources will help you find your ‘new normal’ and live well after ostomy surgery.

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How Ostomy Supplies Have Improved Over the Years

Experiencing challenges with ostomy supplies is quite common among those with an ostomy. Some of those challenges can include skin irritations, leakage, and odors. Over the years, ostomy supplies have been invented in an attempt to address these complications. Today, ostomy supplies are better quality, safer, and most importantly, help improve quality of life.

What is an Ostomy Pouching System?

The ostomy pouching system is offered as either a one-piece or a two-piece flexible system consisting of an ostomy pouch and a skin barrier, sometimes referred to as a flange, wafer, device, or appliance. The skin barrier sits against the skin that surrounds the stoma and may be flat or convex (curved). A one-piece system combines both the barrier and pouch into one convenient unit. The entire one-piece system requires replacement when changing out since the skin barrier and pouch are attached. The two-piece system, however, is made up of a separate skin barrier and ostomy pouch. The two pieces are connected using a coupling ring, and when changing out, the existing pouch is removed, and a new one is attached while the skin barrier remains in place.

The Beginnings of Ostomy Systems

Hollister Karaya PowderIt is recorded as the year 1706 that the first stoma was created on a patient that resulted in a prolapsed colostomy from a battlefield wound. Later in 1776, a French physician formed a stoma on a patient that suffered from an intestinal blockage. An elastic band held a sponge over the stoma site on the abdomen to collect output. Then, for many years, stoma output was managed by ostomy supplies made of leather pouches with drawstrings or rubber pouches and plastic skin barriers held in place using adhesives and belts.

Over the next 60 years, ostomy supplies, surgical techniques, and patient care evolved.  There were approximately 25 manufacturers of ostomy supplies by 1960 in the United States. Ostomy pouch materials were being tested to take away the bulk and heaviness of the rubber pouches being used. The result was a thinner plastic film that was more simple and functional. There are many ostomy pouches today that are constructed of quieter, water-repellent materials and help control odors.

When it came to ostomy, skin barriers, glass, and porcelain were used first. Then in the 1950s, zinc-based skin barriers were used to help protect the stoma and promote peristomal skin health. Later in the 1960s, a laboratory accident led to the discovery of Karaya powder, a natural hydrocolloid that absorbs moisture and protects peristomal skin under the barrier. Nowadays, skin barriers made of hydrocolloid material have become popular and used in most ostomy systems. Hydrocolloid skin barriers can help reduce skin irritation, offer a better seal for fewer leaks, and allow for a longer wear time.

Manufacturer's Focus Today

Today, many manufacturers focus more on the patient’s needs and create ostomy supplies with features that can help improve the fit and performance as well as the user’s quality of life.

Ostomy supplies today address various stoma types, such as retracted or recessed, protruding, or flush. Ostomy supplies such as deodorants, belts and wraps, filters, and seals have come a long way to help prevent leaks, odors, and security. And, the wide range of ostomy pouches that are now available address nearly every type of body type and lifestyle.

Ostomy Pouches Today

Fast-forward to the present, and you will find ostomy supplies that cover almost every concern those with an ostomy might encounter. There are ostomy pouches made of water-repellent, noise-reducing materials, films that help control odors, and many that feature filters to reduce ballooning from gas.

One-Piece Ostomy Systems

A one-piece ostomy system is a pouch and skin barrier combined into one single system. The skin barrier and the ostomy pouch cannot be separated. Manufacturers like Hollister, Coloplast, and ConvaTec, to name a few, carry a wide range of one-piece ostomy systems that cover a variety of user needs.

Two-Piece Ostomy Systems

Unlike the one-piece ostomy system, the two-piece ostomy system offers more flexibility when choosing a pouch and separate barrier since they are not permanently connected. When emptying or changing out the pouch, the skin barrier can remain in place, offering a quick and easy replacement. The two-piece ostomy system also puts less stress on the peristomal skin since the barrier is not being removed as frequently, causing skin friction and irritations.

ConvaTec Esteem one-piece ostomy pouch with barrierDrainable Ostomy Pouches

A drainable ostomy pouch allows the user to drain or clean and reattach to the skin barrier. Drainable pouches typically feature an EasiClose or InvisiClose style closure that uses Velcro to re-close the end. They can also feature other types of seals, such as a clamp or press and seal style. The drainable and reusable ostomy pouches can help cut down on costs since they can be reused.

ConvaTec Esteem one-piece moldable pouchClosed-End Ostomy Pouches

A closed-end ostomy pouch requires it to be discarded after it is full from output. The closed-end pouch might be a good choice for someone that doesn’t want to clean out their pouch. Offered in various shapes and sizes, a closed-end pouch can minimize the time and effort required for change-outs.

activelife stoma capStoma Caps

A stoma cap is the smallest ostomy pouch offered and is another type of closed-end system. The stoma cap is usually the choice for those with very active lifestyles, when being intimate, or for someone that has mastered irrigating their ostomy and has predictable output. Stoma caps are not meant to be worn for long periods since they do not have the capacity of a standard ostomy pouch.

Skin Barriers Today

Today, skin barriers are thinner and much more flexible than those of the past. Many skin barriers are designed to stick to the skin, have integrated closures, are more comfortable, and prevent leaks. Skin barriers are also designed for specific stoma types.

Flat Skin Barriers

If your stoma protrudes, you have deep abdominal creases, or a hernia, a flat skin barrier may be a good fit for you. A flat skin barrier is flexible and accommodates the body’s natural contours. An ostomy paste can fill any creases and create a smooth surface for the flat barrier to adhere nicely.

ConvaTec Natura Durahesive Accordion Trim-to-Fit Skin Barrier with ConvexityConvex Skin Barriers

If your stoma does not protrude, is flush with the abdomen, or is retracted slightly below the skin’s surface, a convex skin barrier may be the right choice for you. Flush and recessed or retracted stomas achieve a more significant protrusion using a convex skin barrier that applies gentle pressure around the stoma to increase protrusion.

Extended Wear Skin Barriers

Generally speaking, standard skin barriers have a shorter wear-time due to less resistance to liquid stool and urine. Standard wear skin barriers do not hold up to lengthy exposure to stool and urine and cause skin irritations because of frequent changes. An extended wear skin barrier, on the other hand, is formulated with substances that have a greater resistance to feces and urine. These substances absorb moisture causing the barrier to swell up around the stoma. Peristomal skin is protected with an extended wear skin barrier and helps reduce skin irritations.

Pre-cut Skin Barriers

If your stoma is round and the size is not changing, a pre-cut skin barrier may suit you. Pre-cut skin barriers offer a consistent stoma opening that doesn’t require cutting with ostomy scissors for an exact fit.

Cut-to-Fit Skin Barriers

If the size of your stoma is oval or changing dimensions, using a cut-to-fit style skin barrier might be a good choice. Since your stoma is an irregular shape and size, a pre-but skin barrier will not provide the tight seal needed to prevent leaks and potential skin irritations.

Moldable Skin Barriers

Moldable skin barriers offer the same benefit as a cut-to-fit skin barrier, but with some added features. Moldable skin barriers don’t require any scissors, resulting in an elastic seal that fits any stoma shape and size for a secure and snug fit. This technology helps prevent leakage issues, but it has also been an excellent skin barrier option to promote skin health.

Ostomy Accessories Today

Many ostomy accessories are available today that help make ostomy systems more comfortable depending on various needs.

Coloplast Brava Lubricating DeodorantOstomy Deodorants

To keep an ostomy pouch smelling fresh and help kill odor-producing bacteria, ostomy deodorants can be used. The deodorants come in liquid drops, gels, sachets, or sprays and can be unscented or scented. When adding ostomy deodorants to a closed-end ostomy pouch, odors can be reduced when changing out the system. Some gel ostomy deodorants can also help make cleaning a drainable pouch easier by lubricating the pouch and eliminating odors left behind.

Adhesives & Adhesive Removers

One type of popular adhesive used for ostomy skin barriers is ostomy paste. This type of adhesive is used to fill in cracks and even out the skin’s contour so the skin barrier can have a better seal. The skin barrier will not stay in place when the skin’s surface is not smooth and flat. By using stoma paste, a reliable and strong seal is created that helps prevent leakage. Other adhesives are offered in the form of sprays, liquids, and roller ball applicators.

Once using an ostomy adhesive, an adhesive remover can gently break down the adhesive on the skin and the barrier. Many ostomy removers are sting-free and help to preserve the health of the delicate peristomal skin. Adhesive removers are available in the form of wipes and sprays to help remove rubber-based, acrylic-based, and hydrocolloid-based residues.

Hollister Adapt Stoma PowderOstomy Powders

Ostomy powders work by absorbing moisture around the stoma to better seal a skin barrier. The powder will turn into a gel when wet but does not contain any adhesive. Ostomy powders are meant to be used only on raw or weepy peristomal skin to help protect the skin from further irritations and extend the wear time of an ostomy skin barrier.

Barrier Wipes & Sprays

Barrier wipes and sprays help reduce skin irritation from adhesives and friction by creating a protective chemical film on the peristomal skin. Barrier wipes and sprays are easy to use and can be combined with stoma powder to better seal the skin barrier. Simply apply the stoma powder and then top with a barrier spray and allow to dry.

a couple of ostomy belts offered at Personally DeliveredOstomy Belts & Wraps

An ostomy belt is useful for securing an ostomy system to the body, protecting the seal, and preventing leaks. Ostomy belts and wraps are available in various styles and sizes to match any situation and can be an alternative to adhesives for sensitive skin. Those who lead active lifestyles can benefit from an ostomy belt since it can provide a sense of security when moving, twisting, and turning.

Ostomy Strips

The use of ostomy strips prevents the skin barrier from lifting and rolling, causing an insecure seal and leakage. Ostomy strips follow the body’s contours and move with the skin, creating a better sense of security and peace of mind that your barrier will stay in place during various activities. ConvaTec easeStrips are a popular ostomy strip that are flexible, thin, and made of hydrocolloid material to be skin-friendly and water-resistant.

Ostomy supplies offered today have made the ostomy system lighter weight, lower profile for comfort, and more discreet for confidence. At the end of the day, the goal is for those with an ostomy to get back to doing the things they enjoy most in life.

If you have any questions about the many ostomy supplies we offer at Personally Delivered, give us a call. Our Ostomy Product Experts are available to help you narrow down and choose what ostomy supplies are suitable for your specific needs or the person you are caring for. We are helping change people’s lives, one person at a time.

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Neurogenic Bladder: Symptoms, Diagnosis, & Treatment Options

The central nervous system consists of the brain, the spinal cord, and many nerves in between. It is responsible for many of the functions within our bodies. When the brain and the nervous system are not properly communicating, or there is damage to these nerves, messages that are supposed to be sent to and from the brain are disrupted. In neurogenic bladder, the nerves do not work the way that they should.

What is Neurogenic Bladder?

Neurogenic Bladder (NGB) happens when conditions related to the brain, spinal cord, or central nervous system affect the bladder. Under normal conditions, the bladder communicates with the brain to hold or release urine. When the nerves that control this communication are disrupted, the bladder becomes either overactive or underactive, depending on the nature of the damage. Neurogenic bladder occurs when neurological issues interrupt these critical messages, causing the bladder to malfunction.

Symptoms of Neurogenic Bladder

woman holding her hands on her stomach in painThe symptoms of neurogenic bladder depend on what is causing the condition. The most common symptom of NGB is the inability to control urination. You can either lose control over your ability to urinate (overactive bladder or OAB) or are unable to fully empty the bladder, or have slow bladder emptying (underactive bladder or UAB).

Other symptoms of neurogenic bladder may include:

  • A weak or dribbling urinary stream
  • Frequent urination (urinating eight or more times daily)
  • A feeling or need to urinate immediately (urge incontinence)
  • An inability to fully empty your bladder (urinary retention)
  • Painful urination, which may mean there is a urinary tract infection
  • Repeated urinary tract infections (UTIs)
  • Difficulty determining when your bladder is full
  • Leaking urine

It is critical to contact your doctor if you have these symptoms or others that are related to urinating. More harm to the urinary system may happen by leaving signs and symptoms to progress without proper medical treatment.

What Causes Neurogenic Bladder?

Neurogenic bladder can be congenital or caused by a brain disorder or bladder nerve damage. Either way, the nerves that communicated between the brain and the bladder are not working correctly.

Congenital disabilities that can cause neurogenic bladder include:

Spina bifida

When a fetus’ spine does not fully develop during the first month of pregnancy, Spina bifida occurs. After birth, babies often have weakness or paralysis that affects the bladder and how it works.

Sacral agenesis

Sacral agenesis is a congenital condition in which parts or all of the sacrum and lower spine are missing.

Cerebral palsy

Cerebral palsy is a group of chronic disorders that affect a person’s ability to control body movement and posture. These disorders result from injury to the motor areas of the brain. Cerebral refers to the brain, and palsy refers to the weakened muscles. Cerebral palsy may occur in the womb or after birth and is not always diagnosed in the first year of life.

Various other medical conditions and brain disorders that can cause neurogenic bladder include the following:

  • Stroke
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Trauma/accidents
  • Central nervous system tumors
  • Heavy metal poisoning

If your doctor thinks you might have a neurogenic bladder, they will perform or order nervous system and bladder muscles tests. By treating the underlying condition, symptoms can often be reduced.

How is Neurogenic Bladder Diagnosed?

Various tests can help determine the health of the central nervous system and the bladder for a doctor to determine if neurogenic bladder is the diagnosis.

Some of the typical testing a doctor may perform or order includes:

Medical history

Your health care provider may ask you several questions to understand your medical history. These questions may include:

  • Symptoms you are having, how long you have had them, and how they are changing your life
  • Information about your past and current health problems
  • A list of the over-the-counter and prescription drugs you are taking
  • How your diet is and about how many liquids you drink during an average day

Physical exam

A physical exam may help your doctor better understand what might be causing your symptoms. The physical exam will likely include your abdomen, pelvis or prostate, and rectum.

Urine culture

A sample of your urine is tested for blood or infection when asked for a urine culture.

Bladder scan

A bladder scan is an ultrasound that shows the amount of urine remaining in the bladder after using the restroom.

Bladder Diary Page 1Bladder diary

You may be asked to keep a bladder diary to track how often you are using the restroom or leaking each day. By keeping a bladder diary for a couple of weeks, your doctor and you can sit down to discuss and learn more about your daily symptoms.

You can download and print your bladder diary here: Bladder Diary

Cystoscopy

A catheter with a tiny camera is inserted into the urethra during a cystoscopy to look into the bladder. This procedure can help the doctor diagnose urinary problems and determine what treatment is necessary. The test can tell how much the bladder can hold, how elastic it is, and when you feel the need to release urine. Bladder cancer, an enlarged prostate, and UTIs can all be found during a cystoscopy.

Other imaging

Your doctor may need to do additional imaging tests such as x-rays and CT scans to help diagnose your condition. Your doctor may also refer you to a specialist for imaging of the spine and brain.

How is Neurogenic Bladder Treated?

Treatment for neurogenic bladder is dependent on what is causing your symptoms and how serious they are. Manufacturers in the medical industry continue to release new inventions to help improve bladder control. The most popular surgery for both men and women is bladder sling surgery. Your doctor may consider these procedures when helping you determine what may work best for you.

Currently, there is no cure for neurogenic bladder, but these are some options your doctor may recommend as treatments to help manage your symptoms:

Portrait of happy young Caucasian woman wearing sportswear doing pelvic muscle exercise lying on mat and smiling in gymBladder training

Kegel exercises can help strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. Since these muscles support your bowel and bladder, practicing these exercises can help prevent urinary leakage. To learn more about Kegel exercises for pelvic floor health, visit our blog post, Take Control of Your Pelvic Floor Disorder.

Delay urination

By waiting a few minutes after you feel the urge to urinate, you are practicing delayed voiding. The goal of delaying urination is to extend this time to a few hours in another attempt to train your bladder.

Urinate on a schedule

By urinating at certain times throughout the day, you might avoid, which can help prevent your bladder from becoming too full. Your doctor may also ask you to keep a bladder diary or journal to record any leakage incidents. A bladder diary can help you determine the best intervals for urinating.

Incontinence products

Incontinence products such as protective underwear, pads, panty shields, panty liners, and adult diapers can help prevent wetness and odors while protecting skin and clothing. The use of underpads, bed pads, chux, and mattress protectors can protect mattresses.

Intermittent catheterization

Your doctor may recommend intermittent catheterization to ensure complete bladder emptying. You may need to self-catheterize a few times a day; however, the catheter may need to stay in long-term in some instances. A variety of intermittent catheters are available to ensure the experience is as smooth and comfortable as possible.

Medication

Your doctor may recommend over-the-counter or prescribe certain medications to help to relax the bladder muscles and help improve bladder function.

collage of coffee mug, brownies, tomatoes, and alcoholic beveragesChange of lifestyle and diet

Maintaining a healthy weight can reduce pressure on the bladder and help relieve symptoms of overactive bladder. Avoiding foods and beverages such as the following can also help reduce or prevent irritating your system:

  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Spicy foods
  • Dairy
  • Chocolate
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Citrus fruits
  • Fruit juices

Electrical stimulation

Another treatment option is electrical stimulation therapy. This therapy involves placing small electrodes on the bladder. When stimulated, the electrodes can send impulses to the brain, telling it you need to urinate.

Botox for OAB

Botox works by stopping the nerve signals to the bladder muscles that trigger OAB. The entire procedure is outpatient and typically done in a doctor’s office. Your doctor will fill your bladder with a numbing agent. Once the bladder is numb, a cystoscope is inserted through the urethra, and Botox is injected into multiple strategic points of the bladder muscle. Your doctor will discuss Botox as a treatment for neurogenic bladder if you are intolerant to all other medications and treatment options.

Surgery

If other treatments fail, you could require a procedure or device to help you urinate. Your doctor can insert an artificial sphincter into your body that compresses the urethra to prevent urinary leakage, which can be manually released to allow emptying of the bladder. Other surgical options include bladder reconstruction surgery which may help with bladder control, or undergoing urostomy surgery. With a urostomy, the ureters are attached to a small portion of the ilium that is then used to create a stoma. A urostomy pouch is then be used to collect and discard urine from the body.

At Personally Delivered, we carry a wide range of incontinence products, catheters, ostomy supplies, and more to manage various symptoms from medical conditions. For help choosing the products, you need for your unique situation, give us a call. One of our compassionate, knowledgeable, and friendly Product Experts is ready to assist.

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A Stoma Cap and its Many Uses

A stoma cap can be a beneficial and discreet option when learning to care for your stoma in various situations. Having the right medical supplies can enhance your life with an ostomy, and a stoma cap might be the ostomy accessory you are looking for.

What is a Stoma Cap?

A stoma cap is the smallest closed-end ostomy bag available and is used just like a traditional ostomy pouch. The only difference is that a stoma cap is incapable of holding stool for long-term usage due to its size. Generally, a stoma cap is about the size of the palm of the hand, approximately 3-4 inches across.

Many of the features you’ll find on a traditional closed-end ostomy pouch can be found on stoma caps.  Features like filters, mechanical couplings with a lock, clear and transparent options, pre-cut, cut-to-fit, and adhesive coupling systems are all options depending on the brand. It is common for the stoma cap to have an absorbent liner to help absorb moisture that is naturally produced by the stoma.

hollister stoma cap

Is a Stoma Cap Right for You?

Since the size of the stoma cap is small and they are not drainable, they are intended for those with an inactive stoma. Unfortunately, a stoma cap is not suitable for all types of ostomies. For those with ileostomies or unpredictable colostomy output, a stoma cap may not be a good choice. A stoma cap is not an ideal choice for large amounts of liquid or formed stool and may cause trouble.

If you irrigate your colostomy and have predictable and relatively infrequent bowel movements, a stoma cap may be an option for short-term or daily use.

When a Stoma Cap is Useful

As previously mentioned, a stoma cap is most helpful for those with a colostomy that have predictable output. Stoma caps can be convenient when discretion is a priority.

Some examples of when a stoma cap can be a benefit include to following scenarios:

Swimming

One of the most common places a person desires discretion is at the pool. A stoma cap can provide this and can be easily concealed by a bathing suit or swim trunks due to its small size. Traditional ostomy pouches can be bulky, become heavy, and get in the way during water activities.

man in red swim shorts floating on his back under water

Working out or playing sports

Stoma caps are less likely to get in the way or move around when participating in a sport or working out at the gym. Additionally, a stoma protector can be paired with a stoma cap to provide more protection to the stoma if you are engaging in contact sports such as wrestling, football, or basketball. This product will protect the stoma from pressure and impact and help prevent leaks from the stoma cap.

men playing wheelchair basketball

Intimacy

Discreetness is usually a preference when being intimate with your partner. A stoma cap can be a less obtrusive option during intimate moments and less prone to getting caught on fabric. When being intimate with your partner, the last thing you want is to snag the stoma cap and cause it to either come off or uncomfortably pull the stoma.

couple intimately looking at one another

Irrigation

If you have successfully mastered emptying your bowels and flushing the colon, the stoma cap could be considered a full-time solution. Irrigation is a process that takes time and practice. By flushing water into the colon through the stoma, irrigation can be beneficial when desiring to wear a stoma cap full-time.

What if a Stoma Cap is Not Right for Me?

Nu-Hope Original Flat Panel Ostomy Support Belt, 5 inches wide, beige, 3-1/4 inch center stoma opening for a 36 to 40 inch waistIf a stoma cap is not the right option for you, but you still want a discreet option for covering your ostomy, you might want to consider an ostomy belt or ostomy wrap. An ostomy belt is an accessory that can provide more security for an ostomy pouching system. The tension that an ostomy belt or wrap delivers helps pull the ostomy pouching system toward the skin and prevent leakage. Those that have a very active lifestyle may benefit from using an ostomy belt.

Ostomy belts and wraps are available in a wide range of sizes and styles to accommodate pairing with different manufacturer pouching systems and body types. If you need assistance determining which ostomy belt or wrap works with your current ostomy pouching system, our Product Experts are available to help.

Where to Buy Stoma Caps

At Personally Delivered, we carry stoma caps by trusted brands like ConvaTec and Hollister. The ActiveLife One-Piece Stoma Cap by ConvaTec features a charcoal filter that helps deodorize gas as it is released from the pouch. It is a lightweight, latex-free, and discreet option for those with less active or predictable stoma output.

Our Hollister Stoma Cap also features an integrated deodorizing carbon filter. This stoma cap has a non-adherent and absorbent pad that protects from skin complications and is lightweight for comfort. You can confidently enjoy swimming and bathing with this stoma cap.

For any questions about the stoma caps or other ostomy supplies we offer, please give us a call, and our Product Experts are happy to help.

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Tips for Adjusting to Life After Ostomy Surgery

Discovering that you need ostomy surgery can be frightening and stressful. Having some research under your belt and having the right ostomy supplies for your stoma type and lifestyle can make a significant difference in the quality of your life. We’ve made it easy for you by providing helpful information, product recommendations, and tips to help navigate your journey with an ostomy. Ostomies are lifesavers, so we hope we can be a part of helping you live your best life.

Why Ostomy Surgery May Be Needed

When the urinary or digestive system is malfunctioning, a temporary or permanent ostomy may be needed to allow urine or stool to exit the body through an alternate route. The surgeon will take a piece of either the ureter, small intestine (ilea), or large intestine (colon) and form a new opening on the abdomen (stoma), diverting urine or feces into an ostomy pouch.

There are various medical conditions such as bladder cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, and urinary or stool incontinence, to name a few, that may result in ostomy surgery. There are three types of ostomy surgeries. Some of the different causes for the type of ostomy surgery needed are:

Causes for a colostomy

  • Rectal or colon cancer
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), including Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis
  • Stool incontinence
  • After an operation to allow the large intestine to heal (temporary)

Causes for an ileostomy

  • Chrohn’s disease
  • Diverticulitis
  • Ulcerative Colitis
  • When the large intestine is damaged or removed due to cancer or injury
  • After an operation to allow the large intestine to heal (temporary)

Causes for a urostomy

  • Bladder removal due to injury or bladder cancer
  • Severe kidney disease
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Surgical complications from abdominal or pelvic surgery

Ostomy Supplies Needed After Ostomy Surgery

Depending on the type of ostomy surgery you have, there are a wide variety of supplies that you will need to keep your perineal skin healthy and remain comfortable. Aside from the ostomy pouching system consisting of a pouch and skin barrier, other ostomy supplies can make life with an ostomy more manageable.

Know that you have choices when it comes to your ostomy supplies. You may have been sent home with a specific style of pouching system, but you are not bound to those ostomy products. Ostomy pouches and supplies have come a long way from the 1920s. Your stoma size and shape will change over time, and that means you will require different ostomy supplies.

collage of ostomy supplies

What to Eat and Drink After Ostomy Surgery

Discuss food preferences and dietary restrictions with your surgeon before discharge from the hospital after ostomy surgery. It may take some time to regain your appetite after ostomy surgery since your gut will need to recover from the trauma. Some foods and beverages may affect your digestive tract differently than before, causing you to produce excess gas, diarrhea, urine odor, or constipation. It may be helpful to introduce foods and beverages slowly to determine how they will affect you.

Tips for reintroducing foods and beverages after ostomy surgery:

  • Eat small meals throughout the day
  • Chewing all foods thoroughly and slowly will aid digestion
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Limit bowel stimulants for a bit, including coffee, fruit, cereals, and alcohol
  • Avoid fizzy drinks that may cause diarrhea and gas

Once your appetite has returned and your stoma output has become more regular, introducing more vegetables, fruits, proteins, dairy, and grains will help with a balanced diet.

When to Resume Activities After Ostomy Surgery

Once you’ve healed from ostomy surgery, your healthcare professional will let you know if you’re ready to start getting active again. Even when living with an ostomy, you can still participate in many sports, including swimming. Many water-resistant ostomy supplies such as ConvaTec ease strips can help keep the skin barrier in place for added security.

Again, check with your doctor before attempting to resume physical activity, especially sports or strenuous activities like lifting weights. However, once you’ve healed and gotten clearance from your healthcare professional, an ostomy accessory such as an abdominal ostomy support belt may be recommended to help keep your ostomy pouch secure.

Contact sports such as wrestling, boxing, and football should be avoided because of possible injury to the stoma. Make sure to check with your doctor or nurse before attempting these activities.

What about being intimate?

Ostomy surgery changes your body and may affect how sensitive you might feel about being intimate with your partner. Just because you have an ostomy, it doesn’t mean that your sex life has to come to an end. Maintaining meaningful and fulfilling intimate encounters can still be part of you and your life.

Ostomy supplies such as a stoma cap allow for a more discreet feel that is also less prone to getting in the way or caught on fabric. ConvaTec has provided some helpful intimacy tips for those with an ostomy here.

Traveling After Ostomy Surgery

You can most definitely travel after healing from your ostomy surgery. The key is to prepare yourself with enough ostomy supplies. If you are traveling by car, plan your route ahead of time, so you know where there are accessible restrooms along the way. If you travel by air, try seating yourself in an exit aisle and close to the bathroom. You will avoid having to maneuver around other passengers and gain access to the facilities quicker.

various products recommended to keep as an ostomy emergency kitMake sure to pack these suggested ostomy supplies when traveling:

It would be wise to double up on everything in the event you get caught in traffic, or your flight is delayed. When traveling by plane, remember to take all of your ostomy supplies with you in your carry-on bag. You will then have full access when you need them most.

Where to Purchase Ostomy Supplies

With the right ostomy supplies and products, you can get back to living the life you enjoy. At Personally Delivered, we offer high-quality, affordable ostomy supplies from respected and trustworthy manufacturers like ConvaTec, Coloplast, Hollister, and more. With guidance from our knowledgeable and compassionate team of Product Advisors, you will be adjusting to life with an ostomy in no time.

We are available Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 5:30 pm EST at 800-777-1111, or you can email us at CustomerService@PersonallyDelivered.com any time.

Top-Rated Ostomy Products & Accessories

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Ulcerative Colitis: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

Ulcerative colitis is classified as an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that primarily affects the digestive tract and can also affect other parts of the body. Ulcerative colitis can cause symptoms of abdominal pain, blood in loose stool, and fecal incontinence. Diagnosis and treatment of ulcerative colitis can be complicated since the symptoms differ for everyone. However, some common symptoms are shared and seem to be the most prevalent.

Common Symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis

emotionally distressed man on edge of bedUlcerative colitis is usually a progressive disease and starts with ulceration in the last part of the intestine and then spreads up through the rest of the colon, causing inflammation along the way. Depending on the form of ulcerative colitis, some of the symptoms may vary. However, the most common symptoms of ulcerative colitis include:

Forms of Ulcerative Colitis

  • Ulcerative proctitis: The mildest form of ulcerative colitis causes inflammation in the rectum due to fine ulcerations in the colon lining. The inflammation of ulcerative proctitis can cause diarrhea, bloody stool, rectal pain, and fecal incontinence.
  • Proctosigmoiditis: This form of ulcerative colitis affects the last section of the colon that attaches to the rectum. Inflammation in this area can cause bloody diarrhea, fecal incontinence, and pain on the left side of the abdomen.
  • Distal colitis: Inflammation with distal colitis starts in the rectum and extends up the left colon, causing bloody stools, weight loss, loss of appetite, and sometimes severe pain on the left side.
  • Pancolitis: The most severe form of ulcerative colitis is pancolitis when the entire colon is inflamed. This inflammation throughout the whole colon causes diarrhea, cramps, significant weight loss, and severe abdominal pain.

What Causes Ulcerative Colitis?

Although there is no exact confirmed cause for ulcerative colitis, some factors contribute to it, such as a complex interaction of genetics, immune response, and environmental triggers. Some early research pointed at stress, mental illness, and diet as being potential triggers. However, it is now known that ulcerative colitis is not caused by stress or eating the wrong food.

Let’s take a look at how these factors may contribute to ulcerative colitis.

Genetics

We have many genes in our bodies, and many of those genes get passed down to children. Therefore, a person is more likely to develop ulcerative colitis if there is a family history of the disease. However, that does not mean that a person will develop ulcerative colitis just because they have the genes associated with the disease. There are a variety of other factors that can contribute to ulcerative colitis beyond just genetics.

Autoimmune Reaction

Since ulcerative colitis is an autoimmune disease, the immune system isn’t working properly to fight against bacteria and viruses. Instead, the immune system attacks healthy cells throughout the body, and in the case of ulcerative colitis, it attacks the large intestine. In addition, medications used to treat ulcerative colitis suppress the immune system, causing fewer flare-ups.

Environmental Factors

woman holding a large amount of pills in hand with a glass of water in the other handOther factors to consider in developing ulcerative colitis beyond genetics and the immune system response may be related to a person’s environment. Some of these environmental factors that could trigger a flare-up are:

Non-steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)

This type of pain medication is often used as a treatment in people with ulcerative colitis because it has been shown to decrease flare-ups of the disease. However, the continuous, long-term use of NSAIDs can cause irritation and bleeding in the digestive tract.

Antibiotics

Antibiotics have been shown to trigger flare-ups of ulcerative colitis for some people. In addition, when antibiotics are taken for an extended period or used in young people, it can be associated with a higher risk of developing a form of ulcerative colitis.

Geographic Location & Ethnicity

Ulcerative colitis tends to occur in people who live in cities within Northern Europe and North America and closely linked to a westernized environment and lifestyle. Ulcerative colitis also has a higher incidence in Jewish populations compared to any other ethnicity.

Complications of Ulcerative Colitis

Ulcerative colitis can cause complications both within the digestive system and outside of it. Inside the digestive system, these problems are referred to as intestinal, and outside the digestive system, they are called extra-intestinal.

Intestinal complications from ulcerative colitis can include:

  • Fissure: A fissure is a tear in the lining of the anal canal that can cause severe pain and bleeding during bowel movements. Anal fissures can be acute or chronic and are usually treatable at home without medical intervention.
  • Bowel perforation: Intestinal perforation can happen when the colon’s wall becomes so weak due to chronic inflammation and ulceration of the intestine resulting in a hole. This perforation is life-threatening and needs immediate attention. Bacteria can spill into the abdomen, causing infection and toxicity.
  • Toxic megacolon: Considered the most severe intestinal complication of ulcerative colitis, toxic megacolon needs emergency treatment. With toxic megacolon, the colon dilates, resulting in painful and uncomfortable abdominal distention. In addition, the colon loses its ability to contract and move gas along, and if not treated immediately, the colon could rupture.
  • Colon cancer: The risk of developing colon cancer from Ulcerative colitis increases with the duration and severity of the disease. It is essential to schedule routine colon cancer screenings with a gastroenterologist.

Extra-intestinal complications from ulcerative colitis can include:

  • Arthritis: Different forms of arthritis can occur in people with ulcerative colitis. The most common include:
    • Peripheral arthritis: Inflammation in the large joints such as knees, elbows, ankles, and wrists.
    • Rheumatoid arthritis: An autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks healthy cells, causing inflammation in many joints at once.
    • Axial arthritis: Inflammation in the lower spine, hips, pelvis, and buttocks.
    • Ankylosing spondylitis: Inflammation affecting the neck and back can cause the vertebrae to fuse, affecting the spine’s ability to flex.
  • Delayed bone growth in teens: Many older medications for ulcerative colitis patients contain steroids. Unfortunately, steroids can stunt bone growth, causing teens with ulcerative colitis to have delayed bone growth.
  • Mouth ulcers: With an ulcerative colitis flare-up, it is common to get mouth sores or canker sores. These mouth ulcers are small lesions at the base of the gums and can make eating and drinking painful.
  • Skin problems: Ulcerative colitis can also cause painful skin rashes and irritations due to the inflammation within the body or from the medications used for treatment. Some of the skin conditions include:
    • Psoriasis: An immune disorder where skin cells build up and form red patches or silver scales on the skin.
    • Vitiligo: White patches of skin develop due to this autoimmune disorder where the cells that produce the skin pigment are destroyed.
    • Hives: These red, itchy rashes can occur anywhere on the body and are often caused by the medication used to treat ulcerative colitis.
    • Erythema nodosum: The most common skin problem for those with ulcerative colitis is erythema nodosum, where red nodules form on the legs and arms, appearing like bruises.
    • Pyoderma gangrenosum: This second most common skin issue is when small blisters form and spread to create a deep and painful ulcer. This skin problem is usually around the shin and ankles but can also form on the arms.
  • Eye diseases: Several eye conditions such as glaucoma, uveitis (inflammation in the middle layer of the eye causing redness and blurred vision), episcleritis (redness on the whites of the eye), and dry eye are associated with ulcerative colitis or the treatments for the disease.

Treatment Options for Ulcerative Colitis

A gastroenterologist will discuss a treatment plan based on the form of ulcerative colitis and how long a person has been experiencing symptoms. Over-the-counter and prescription medications may be considered as well as lifestyle modifications. Probiotics may also be recommended to help restore healthy gut bacteria. In addition, surgical procedures may be discussed in more severe cases to remove diseased parts of the colon and help reduce the risk of developing colon cancer.

Over-the-Counter Medication (OTC)

OTC medications may be used to relieve some symptoms of ulcerative colitis. However, they are used in conjunction with prescription drugs because they do not address the underlying causes of the disease.

Enemeez Mini EnemaSome of the most common OTC medications are:

  • Antidiarrheal medications: Imodium (loperamide) can help with diarrhea but should be used with caution, as they can increase the risk of toxic megacolon.
  • Pain relievers: For mild pain, Tylenol (acetaminophen) can be used. Advil or Motrin (ibuprofen), Aleve (naproxen sodium), and Voltaren (diclofenac sodium) should be avoided as these OTC medications can worsen symptoms.
  • Enemas and suppositories: Those containing butyrate may effectively treat ulcerative colitis in the very last sections of the colon. Butyrate has been shown to be beneficial to the cells in the intestinal tract by combating inflammation, preventing cells from becoming cancerous, and reducing the effects of oxidative stress
  • Iron supplements: In chronic intestinal bleeding, a person is at risk for developing iron deficiency anemia. The inflammation from ulcerative colitis disrupts the body’s ability to use stored iron or absorb it through food. Iron supplements may be able to help.

Prescription Medications

A gastroenterologist may use one or more combinations of prescription medications to treat the symptoms of ulcerative colitis. Some may be taken regularly, while other fast-acting drugs are given on a short-term basis to treat an active flare-up.

Anti-Inflammatories

As a first step in treating ulcerative colitis, gastroenterologists turn to anti-inflammatory medications, which can include:

  • 5-aminosalicylates: Depending on which part of your colon is affected, these are taken orally or as an enema or suppository. Some examples include Azulfidine (sulfasalazine), Asacol HD (mesalamine), Colazal (balsalazide), and Dipentum (olsalazine).
  • Corticosteroids: Prednisone and hydrocortisone are two types of corticosteroids used to treat ulcerative colitis and are reserved for moderate to severe ulcerative colitis. These medications’ potential unwanted side effects are weight gain, fluid retention, high blood pressure, mood changes, and osteoporosis.

Immune System Suppressors

Immune system suppressor medications control inflammation in the body by suppressing the immune system response. These medications are typically used in people who haven’t responded to or cannot tolerate other treatments and include:

  • Azasan and Imuran (azathioprine); Purinethol and Purixan (mercaptopurine): These medications suppress the immune system by interfering with the body’s production of DNA molecules. The doctor will monitor their patient closely and take regular bloodwork, as side effects can affect the liver and pancreas.
  • Gengraf, Neoral, and Sandimmune (cyclosporine): These immunosuppressants are generally reserved for people who haven’t responded well to other medications. Cyclosporine is believed to work by suppressing lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell. However, because cyclosporine has the potential for serious side effects, it is not intended for long-term use.
  • Entyvio (vedolizumab): This medication works by blocking inflammatory cells from getting to the site of inflammation.
  • Remicade (infliximab), Humira (adalimumab), and Simponi (golimumab): These drugs, called biologics or tumor necrosis factor (TNF) inhibitors, control the abnormal immune response.
  • Xeljanz (tofacitinib): This is an oral medication that can regulate immune cell function, and it is used to treat moderate to severe ulcerative colitis.

Antibiotics

If an infection in the colon is suspected, the gastroenterologist may prescribe antibiotics to treat ulcerative colitis. However, it is essential to note that antibiotics can cause diarrhea and lead to uncomfortable and painful flare-ups.

Surgical Procedures

If prescription medication side effects are too severe and other alternative treatment options have failed, the gastroenterologist will discuss surgical procedures to relieve the symptoms. There are two types of surgeries that involve removing the large intestine that are the most common in treating ulcerative colitis; “J-Pouch” and total proctocolectomy surgeries.

"J-Pouch" Surgery

A proctocolectomy with ileal pouch-anal anastomosis (IPAA), or “J-Pouch” surgery, involves removing the large intestine and most of the rectum. The end of the small intestine is then used to form an internal pouch shaped like a J, hence “J-Pouch.” A temporary ileostomy is created by diverting the small intestine out of the abdomen to form a stoma. An ileostomy pouch is used to collect stool as the “J-Pouch” heals. After approximately 12 weeks, a second surgery is performed to reconnect the small intestine and allow regular bowel movements since the muscles of the anus remain intact.

“J-Pouch” surgery is not a cure for ulcerative colitis and does not entirely put a person in the clear for developing colon cancer.

Total Proctocolectomy

This surgery involves complete removal of the large intestine, rectum, and anus and is a permanent cure for ulcerative colitis. A total proctocolectomy also eliminates the risk of colon cancer. However, because the rectum and anus are removed, the ileostomy is permanent, and ostomy supplies will be required for the rest of life.

collage of ostomy supplies

Complementary Medicine (CAM)

Some patients with ulcerative colitis have responded well to complementary medicines. Although each person’s symptoms are different, the risk of using supplements, herbs, and other homeopathic remedies is low but should always be discussed with a gastroenterologist.

A few CAMs to consider discussing with a doctor may be:

probiotic yogurt bowl with pineappleProbiotics & Prebiotics

Probiotics act as a barrier by lining the bowels, so harmful bacteria cannot reach the intestinal wall. As a result, these microorganisms help “good” bacteria grow and are often able to reduce inflammation and improve the protective mucus lining of the gut.

Prebiotics are found in fibrous foods such as bananas, garlic, onions, asparagus, artichoke, and oats. These foods aid in the “good” bacteria in the colon. The undigestable prebiotic fibers from these foods help build up the gut lining, protecting it from harmful bacteria.

Boswellia

Boswellia is a medicinal herb derived from a tree native to India that has anti-inflammatory properties. The active ingredient is found in the resin of the bark. It has been used to treat inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis without causing stomach irritation that some OTCs or prescription medications can cause.

Aloe Vera Gel

Aloe vera gel in its pure form is from inside the leaf of the aloe plant. This complimentary medicine has been found to have an anti-inflammatory effect in people with ulcerative colitis. It is critical to note that most stores carry aloe vera juice which is not the same as pure aloe vera gel. Aloe vera juice has a laxative effect and can cause diarrhea. For those with ulcerative colitis, aloe vera juice should be avoided.

Lifestyle & Diet Adjustments

Making a few changes to your lifestyle and diet may significantly impact relieving ulcerative colitis symptoms and prolong the time between flare-ups. Here are some examples to consider:

  • Try eating small meals: Five or six small meals a day rather than two or three larger ones may help you digest more easily and efficiently.
  • Limit fiber: High-fiber foods, such as fresh fruits and raw vegetables, and whole grains, may worsen ulcerative colitis symptoms for some. Grilling, sauteeing, or roasting raw foods may be an option to try.
  • Limit dairy: Diarrhea, abdominal pain, and gas may improve by limiting or dairy from your diet. In addition, if you are lactose intolerant, your body is unable to digest the milk sugar (lactose) in dairy foods. There are many products in stores that cater to those with lactose intolerance, such as Lactaid, Almond Breeze, and various dairy-free cheeses and yogurts.
  • Incorporate fatty fish: Omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon, mackerel, trout, Pollock, and swordfish may keep inflammation at bay. These healthy fats have been known to ease ulcerative colitis symptoms. Think of them as lubing up your intestines and joints.
  • Avoid spicy foods, alcohol, and caffeine: These choices may increase your symptoms, lead to dehydration, diarrhea, or worsen a flare-up.

When to See a Doctor

Doctor Discussing Medication with his patient as they sit next to one anotherWith the symptoms associated with a flare-up from ulcerative colitis, it can be challenging to know which are an emergency and which can wait. However, symptoms that should prompt contacting a gastroenterologist right away include:

  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Light-headedness
  • Painful cramps in the legs
  • Decreased urination

Calling the gastroenterologist before heading to a hospital might help in deciding what level of care is needed. For example, it may be necessary to change treatments or adjust the current treatment plan to get any inflammation under control quickly.

However, if a severe condition such as a bowel perforation or toxic megacolon is suspected, it may be necessary to call 911 because these are medical emergencies.

Ulcerative colitis symptoms and treatment will vary from person to person. If you are confused about the disease and all of the medications and therapies available, have a discussion with your gastroenterologist. They will discuss the benefits and risks and help you make informed decisions together about your care.

If you or a loved one have ulcerative colitis and have questions about the home delivery medical supplies we carry that might be helpful to manage the symptoms, our Product Experts are just a phone call away and ready to help.

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Ostomy Accessories: A Guide for Making Choices

After ostomy surgery, the quality of your life is highly dependent on choosing the right ostomy accessories for your unique needs. With the right ostomy accessories for your lifestyle and stoma type, you can avoid skin irritations, leakage, and unexpected odors in public areas. Know that you have choices and are not stuck with what was given to you at the hospital upon release home. You can continue doing all of the things you enjoyed before your surgery when choosing the right ostomy accessories.

There are More Ostomy Accessories Available to You

Hospitals do not carry all of the manufacturers of ostomy accessories and pouching systems available in the market. They are limited to suppliers they have contracts with, which may only be one or two manufacturers. It is essential to know that you have choices beyond what ostomy accessories you are sent home with.

Some of the major manufacturers of ostomy accessories are:

ConvaTec Ostomy Accessories

ConvaTec Sure-fit Natura moldable barrierAs a global manufacturer of ostomy supplies, ConvaTec is a company whose goal is to ultimately improve the quality of people’s lives. ConvaTec uses creative innovation as they continue to develop products to better fit the needs and preferences of actual product users.

ConvaTec ostomy supplies are a great example of their commitment to user-friendly products that combine advanced technology and features that are tried and true. For example, many users prefer the ostomy systems and skin barriers that feature ConvaTec’s Moldable Technology due to the easy customization and convenient use without the need for scissors to trimming to fit.

Coloplast Ostomy Accessories

Coloplast Brava Skin Barrier SprayFor over 60 years, Coloplast has been developing ostomy supplies to help make people’s lives easier. Coloplast designed their ostomy accessories to help give you a custom fit since no two bodies are exactly alike. Coloplast convex skin barriers are perfect stomas that need help with protrusion. These ostomy accessories are excellent for those with skin creases, folds, and leakage. The wide range of Coloplast Brava ostomy accessories can also help reduce leakage and protect the skin.

Hollister Ostomy Accessories

New Image Flat CeraPlus Skin BarrierHollister Incorporated has been manufacturing and developing healthcare products globally for over 95 years. The company strives to make products that allow those who use them to live a more confident and fulfilling life. They know that peristomal skin is essential in maintaining a healthy lifestyle after ostomy surgery. That is why one of their popular products, the CeraPlus skin barrier, is designed to protect the skin’s natural moisture barrier and maintain healthy peristomal skin.

Choosing Your Ostomy Accessories Supplier

The major manufacturers listed above do not sell direct to the public, and most, if not all, are unavailable for purchase from your local pharmacy. You will need to get in touch with a reputable ostomy accessories supplier to get the ostomy supplies you need.

Personally Delivered carries all of the major manufacturer brands of ostomy products and ostomy accessories. Our ostomy supplies are competitively priced and shipped with reliable, on-time delivery. If you need assistance choosing your ostomy supplies, we also have Ostomy Product Experts to help guide you through your purchasing journey and are here every step of the way to make the entire process easy for you.

If you have insurance and wish to purchase your ostomy accessories and other ostomy supplies, our sister company, 180 Medical, is the choice for you. They are the reimbursement side of our company and work with physicians and insurance providers every day. They take care of shipping your ostomy accessories and supplies discreetly to your door and file your insurance claims for you at no charge.

180 medical corporate logo

Sometimes, your insurance or Medicare will only cover a certain amount of ostomy supplies, and that is when Personally Delivered can help. You can purchase as many ostomy supplies as you need beyond what is covered by insurance and feel confident that you are in good hands and cared for by a professional, knowledgeable, and compassionate team. Our customer testimonials speak for themselves, and we are proud to know that we are changing people’s lives.

It is Normal for Your Stoma to Change

It is entirely normal for your stoma to change during the post-operative period. Your stoma may be slightly larger or swollen right after surgery and then gradually subside over time. The swelling may take several weeks to go down; therefore, you will need to use different types of ostomy accessories to accommodate your stoma changes. Correct sizing of your ostomy accessories will help prevent skin irritation around the stoma.

Here are some of the other common causes of stoma change in shape or size:

Weight Gain

Your stoma may change shape or size from weight gain. Gaining enough weight can pull the stoma inward and cause it to be flush with the surrounding skin or retract farther inward. In this case, a convex skin barrier may help increase the protrusion of the stoma. The convex shape applies gentle pressure around the skin surrounding the stoma to help ‘push’ the stoma outward.

Strenuous Activity

When the stoma suddenly becomes more prominent than usual and protrudes outward, it is called a prolapsed stoma. Strenuous activity such as straining to lift heavy objects can cause a prolapsed stoma. A prolapsed stoma can sometimes and fill an ostomy bag more quickly or require the use of ostomy accessories such as a support belt. You may find using a two-piece ostomy system works better by keeping the flange in place as the bag is routinely changed. This ostomy system might help protect the prolapsed stoma.

Hernias

Hernias around the stoma happen when the intestines push outward near the stoma. These types of hernias are called peristomal hernias and cause the skin to bulge around the stoma. Hernias around the stoma can cause pain and leakage, so choosing the right ostomy accessories will help

Aging

As we age, our muscles and skin change. We lose strength and tone with age, and therefore the stoma changes along with it. The contours of the skin around the stoma may not be as smooth as before and require new ostomy accessories such as adhesive strips designed to hold the skin barrier down to eliminate any leakage.

Types of Ostomy Accessories

Adhesive Barrier Strips

ConvaTec ease Strips as ostomy accessoriesAs an alternative to stoma paste to fill uneven gaps around the stoma due to skin folds or creases, adhesive barrier strips are an excellent ostomy accessory. These barrier strips protect the skin around the stoma from further irritation and create a waterproof seal. Adhesive barrier strips can prolong ostomy appliance wear time and significantly reduce leakage.

ConvaTec ease Strips are an excellent choice for barrier strips. These thin and flexible barrier strips keep your ostomy skin barrier in place and are made of a skin-friendly hydrocolloid material for comfort. And, since they are water-resistant, you can confidently bathe and swim knowing that your skin barrier will stay secure.

Ostomy Belts

Cardinal Health Essentials Ostomy BeltOstomy belts help prevent leaks by pulling the ostomy pouching system upward toward the abdomen. These types of ostomy accessories are typically very discreet and do not interfere with the ostomy bag. An ostomy belt can help keep the ostomy pouch in place and prevent it from detaching from the stoma or snagged.

Moldable Rings and Seals

Hollister Adapt SoftFlex Barrier RingJust as adhesive barrier strips help protect the skin around the stoma that has creases or folds and prevent leakage, moldable rings and seals are effective ostomy accessories to improve the fit of the skin barrier. Moldable rings and seals can be stretched, cut, or stacked to make the seal between the skin and the barrier leak-free and comfortable.

Stoma Cap

A stoma cap is a unique little ostomy bag used for occasions when discretion is a top priority. Most of the time, a stoma cap is a choice when you will be active in some way, knowing that you won’t have much output. These activities might include swimming, working out at the gym, or times of intimacy. Stoma caps are not drainable, so they are most suitable for infrequent and predictable bowel movements.

Odor Neutralizers

M9 Odor Eliminator Apple Scented SprayOdor neutralizes are one of the best ostomy accessories to help with ostomy odors. These ostomy products cancel the unpleasant air in and around ostomy pouches rather than covering it. Odor neutralizers come in sprays that instantly neutralize odors in a room or drops that are convenient for use in your pouch before application.

Stoma Powders

Hollister Adapt Stoma PowderStoma powder works to absorb any moisture from the skin around the stoma. When this moisture is absorbed, ostomy accessories adhere to the skin better and result in a sufficient seal. Often, people do not realize that they are tearing the top line of their skin when they remove their ostomy barrier. This damage to the skin leads to irritation that stoma powder can help alleviate. A doctor should examine skin that remains moist and irritated as this may require medical attention. Medical professionals can also provide further insight into the healing qualities of stoma powder. When the skin is no longer moist and irritated, users can stop applying stoma powder as it is designed to alleviate irritation and is not meant to be used for preventable purposes.

Pouch Liners

Colo-Majic pouch liner as ostomy accessoriesPouch liners can be an economical and less messy choice for those managing their ostomy output. The ostomy pouch is protected by these ostomy accessories, therefore saving money on frequently replacing expensive two-piece pouching systems. Ostomy pouch liners like the Colo-Majic Ostomy Pouch Liners are made of biodegradable material, so they are safe to flush away and make change-out simple. Pouch liners also help prevent ballooning with their ability to release gas and prevent clogging.

Tips for Taking Control of Your Ostomy Care

You can do several things to ensure that you are making the best choices for yourself when it comes to your ostomy accessories so you can remain in control of your ostomy care. It would be best to advocate for yourself when it comes to the ostomy accessories that work best for you.

  • Know your ostomy appliance and accessories that make you feel most comfortable. Keep the manufacturer numbers handy in a notebook or on a spreadsheet.
  • Keep the reliable supplier contact information in a safe place and make sure you have a backup in the case of an emergency.
  • Remember that as your stoma changes, you have product selection options accessible to you. You have the right to choose your ostomy accessories and take control of your ostomy care.
  • Make sure to take advantage of all the available resources through your ostomy manufacturer, supplier, and physician of choice. They will help provide you with the best experience with your ostomy accessories and supplies.

If you have any questions or would like assistance choosing the ostomy accessories you need, our Ostomy Product Experts are here to help. Our goal is to get you the ostomy accessories and supplies you need so that you can continue to enjoy all the activities you did before your ostomy surgery.

Popular Ostomy Accessories

ConvaTec ease™ Strips

ConvaTec ease Strips

Brava Ostomy Powder

Brava Ostomy Powder

Bard Medi-Aire Odor Neutralizer

Hollister Stoma Cap

Hollister Stoma Cap
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Why would you need a nephrostomy?

A nephrostomy is needed if something blocks the normal flow of urine from the kidneys into the bladder and out the urethra. When urine stays in the kidneys because of this blockage, it can cause damage to these organs. To help drain urine from the kidneys, a nephrostomy tube is placed by a surgeon. The nephrostomy tube is a catheter put through the skin on your back and into the kidney to drain your urine. You may need a nephrostomy tube if you have kidney stones, prostate cancer, pelvic tumors, or damage to your urinary system.

What is the difference between a nephrostomy and a urostomy?

A nephrostomy is an artificial opening (stoma) created between the kidney and the skin, allowing for rerouting the normal flow of urine directly from the upper part of the urinary system.

A urostomy is a surgical procedure that takes a section of the ilium, the last section of the small intestine. It connects it to the ureters from the kidneys for urine diversion. A stoma is created on the abdominal wall, and the open end of the small intestine is pulled through and sutured to the skin. This opening is the new path urine will flow out of the body and into a urine drainage bag for collection.

Can nephrostomy tubes be permanent?

A nephrostomy tube will remain in place depending on each individual’s unique situation. If your doctor feels that an alternative treatment may relieve the blockage, the nephrostomy tube may be temporary. One type of alternative treatment option is to place a stent in the ureter. The stent is a small, flexible, hollow tube, and the ureter is the tube that connects the kidneys to the bladder. The stent holds the ureter open so urine can flow out of the kidneys and into the bladder, and out the urethra.

Your doctor will decide whether the nephrostomy tube may be permanent if the stent option is not suitable. In this case, the nephrostomy tube will need to be cleaned and changed periodically by a surgeon.

How often should a nephrostomy bag be changed?

The nephrostomy tube will be attached to a urine drainage bag. This urine collection bag will either be reusable or disposable (single-use). Disposable drainage bags are thrown away after each use. If you are using a reusable urine drainage bag, it will need to be regularly cleaned for sanitary purposes.

The following are general directions for cleaning a reusable urine drainage bag:

  • Make sure you are stocked with reusable urine drainage bags so that you will be able to attach a new bag immediately as you remove the used one for each cleaning.
  • Keep an eye on the amount of urine the drainage bag has collected. It is recommended that urine drainage bags be emptied with they are approximately ½ to 2/3 full.
  • Detach the drainage bag from the nephrostomy tube and attach a new bag tightly to the nephrostomy tube. While standing over a toilet, open the spout at the end of the used drainage bag and pour the urine out.
  • Fill the urine drainage bag halfway with a white vinegar solution that is 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water. Allow the bag to soak for about 30 minutes. Rinse the bag with water and hang it to dry. If the smell of vinegar puts you off, you may use warm soapy water in its place.
  • It is recommended that you dispose of reusable bags after one week of use.

How do you check a nephrostomy tube?

The nephrostomy tube comes out of your back, so it is not the easiest to reach on your own. Caring for and checking your nephrostomy tube will require assistance from someone else. Your doctor should provide instructions on how your skin should be cleaned and what type of skin barrier and tape for securing should be used.

nephrostomy suppliesThe following general instructions explain how the person who is helping you can check and care for your nephrostomy tube.

Gather the items you will need.

Remove the old bandage, and check the tube entry site.

  • Wash your hands with soap and water and put on the medical gloves.
  • Have the patient lie on their side on the disposable underpad with the nephrostomy tube entry site facing up.
  • Hold the skin beside the nephrostomy tube with one hand and with the other hand, gently remove old bandages or tape and the skin barrier. Pulling in the same direction as hair growth will minimize any pain to the patient. Dispose of the old dressing and skin barrier in a trash bag.
  • Take a look around the skin at the entry site of the nephrostomy tube. If there are signs of redness or swelling, there may be an infection. Immediately contact the patient’s doctor.
  • The nephrostomy tube should have a black indicator line where it enters the skin. This line helps determine whether or not the tube has moved out of place. If the black indicator line is not next to the skin, contact the patient’s doctor right away. The nephrostomy tube will need to be put back in its proper place by them.

Clean the tube entry site.

  • Using the saline solution, wet a couple of the gauze pads. While holding the tube in place to keep it from being pulled out, take a wet gauze pad and wipe around the nephrostomy tube, clearing any material from the skin. Repeat this step with a couple of gauze pads soaked in saline solution.
  • Gently pat the skin with a clean washcloth to dry it.

Apply the skin barrier and bandages.

  • Take the skin barrier and cut an opening in the center large enough to fit around the nephrostomy tube. Cut a slit from the outside edge of the skin barrier to the center opening to fit around the nephrostomy tube. Place the skin barrier around the nephrostomy tube.
  • Use the gauze bandage roll and wrap it around the entry point of the nephrostomy tube to support it and stop it from kinking or bending. Tape the gauze bandage securely in place.
  • An attachment device such as the Hollister Vertical Drain Tube Attachment may be placed over the bandages to help keep the nephrostomy tube in place.
  • Bring the tubing forward to the front of the patient’s body and tape it to the skin. Careful not to stretch the tube too tight, as this may pull the nephrostomy tube out.

How often should you change the bandage, skin barrier, and tube attachment device?

It is recommended that the bandages around the tube, skin barriers, and tube attachment devices are changed at least every seven days. If your dressings, skin barriers, or attachment devices get dirty or wet, they should be changed right away to prevent infection. If your nephrostomy tube is permanent, the tube needs to be changed every 2 to 3 months. Your doctor should tell you how often you need to have your tube changed.

what to remember with a nephrostomy

What problems should you watch for?

The skin around the nephrostomy tube is red, sore, or swollen.

You might have an infection. Wash your hands and clean the skin and nephrostomy tube at the entry site once or twice a day with a saline solution. Change your dressing every day and apply an antibiotic each time. Put dry, sterile gauze over the tube. If the problem does not resolve within a week, contact your doctor who ordered this tube for you.

You experience pain in the middle of your back along with a fever, urine color changes, or the nephrostomy tube is not draining well.

You may have a kidney infection and should call your doctor immediately. Your doctor might want to start you on antibiotics and will likely change your tube right away. To prevent kidney infections in the future, try rinsing your drainage bag with clean water every day. Drink plenty of fluids each day and change your nephrostomy tube every three months.

There is leaking at the entry site of the nephrostomy tube, or no urine is draining into the bag.

Your nephrostomy tube may be partially or entirely out. Use some tape to secure the tube and call your doctor right away. The opening in the skin can close up quickly, and insertion will be more complex and painful. By checking to make sure your tube is secured to your skin and the dressing is securely in place daily, you can help prevent the nephrostomy tube from coming loose and falling out.

You experience pain in your kidney area, there is leaking around the entry site, or there is no drainage in the tube.

You may have a blockage in your nephrostomy tube. Check for any kinks or bends in the tubing. If you don’t find any problems with the tubing, you should contact your doctor immediately before the situation becomes more severe. Your nephrostomy tube will need to be changed. Drinking plenty of water and getting your tub changed every three months can help prevent blockages.

When to contact your doctor

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • The skin around the nephrostomy tube is red, swollen, itches, or has a rash.
  • The black indicator mark on the nephrostomy tube has moved away from the entry point on the skin.
  • A large amount of urine is draining into the drainage bag over a short period.
  • You have little or no urine draining from the nephrostomy tube.
  • You are experiencing pain in your lower back or hips.
  • There are changes in the color or smell of your urine.
  • You have a fever, nausea, or vomiting.

Some of Our Nephrostomy Supplies

Hollister Vertical Drain Tube Attachment Device

Hollister Vertical Drain Tube Attachment Device

McKesson Drain Split Sponges

McKesson Drain Split Sponges

McKesson Saline Irrigation Solution

McKesson Saline Irrigation Solution

Covidien Simplicity Basic Underpad

Covidien Simplicity Basic Underpad

If you have any questions about the information provided in this blog or the home delivery medical supplies we carry, our Product Experts are just a phone call away and ready to help.

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Skin Issues Around the Stoma

Skin issues around the stoma are usually experienced at some point in those living with an ostomy. This area around the stoma is referred to as peristomal skin. Taking good care of this skin is a crucial element in maintaining a comfortable lifestyle after ostomy surgery.

Skin irritation around the stoma is common, but it doesn’t have to be a normal part of life with an ostomy. Signs of redness, damage, irritation, and rashes are alerts for concern. Unhealthy skin around the stoma can cause pain, leakage, and negative quality of life.

We will address common skin issues around the stoma, some suggestions on preventing them, and a technique that can help treat many of them.  With proper treatment and care, most skin issues around the stoma can be solved before developing into a more severe problem.

Common Skin Issues Around the Stoma

Irritant Dermatitis

Irritant dermatitis happens when something is irritating the skin around your stoma. This irritation could be a result of stoma pastes, barrier sprays, urine, or stool. The area may look red, wet, weepy, or even bleed.  Make sure to change your pouch routinely and consider an extended-wear skin barrier or a convex skin barrier if you have skin folds or creases. Moldable Technology by ConvaTec can help give you a better seal.

Mechanical Irritation

Mechanical irritation is caused by aggressively wiping or washing the skin around the stoma or forcefully removing the skin barrier. The skin around the stoma will look red and weepy. It is essential to be gentle when washing around this area and be careful when peeling the skin barrier off.

Folliculitis

Tiny red bumps around the stoma that can also be painful are called folliculitis. More common in men due to hair growth on the abdomen, folliculitis is caused by the hair underneath the skin barrier becoming irritated. The hairs are repeatedly removed during each skin barrier change, and the hair follicles are irritated. Think of continually waxing the same area of skin over and over. It is bound to become red and hurt. Incorrectly shaving the hair around your stoma can also cause folliculitis. Using an electric razor or scissors to trim the hair may be helpful, and remember to be gentle when you peel back the skin barrier for removal.

Contact Dermatitis

When the outer layer of the skin has been damaged or cut, contact dermatitis can occur around the stoma. Ostomy skin barriers can rub the skin the wrong way and cause a red rash to form. You should speak to your physician if you suspect you have contact dermatitis. They may prescribe a special cream or ostomy powder to use.

Allergic Dermatitis

Like contact dermatitis, allergic dermatitis occurs when a red rash forms because of an allergic reaction to any pastes, sprays, skin barriers, or even the pouch material you are using. The body is releasing inflammatory chemicals, which makes the skin feel itchy and irritated. Contact your physician to find out if you need to change the products you are using.

Fungal Infection

Fungal infection around the stoma appears like a rash, but features raised round red areas. The skin around the stoma will burn and itch and fungal infections are known to spread outside the stoma area. Because fungal infections thrive and multiply in dark and moist places, make sure to dry the skin around the stoma entirely before applying a new skin barrier and pouch. Your physician may suggest an anti-fungal stoma powder.

Those who have been taking antibiotics for more than a week or have anemia, diabetes, or a lowered immune system may be more prone to fungal infections.

Using the Crusting Technique to Treat Skin Issues Around the Stoma

peristomal skin care productsFor most common skin issues around the stoma, using the crusting technique can help provide a seal while the skin is irritated.

The five steps to this technique are:

  1. Use warm water to cleanse any residue from stoma paste around the surrounding area of the stoma and pat dry. You can also use Brava Adhesive Remover Spray or wipes to clean off the skin gently.
  2. Sprinkle stoma powder such as the Hollister Adapt Stoma Powder onto the irritated stoma skin and dust off any excess to prevent clumping. This stoma powder is designed to alleviate irritation, so you may be able to cease use once the skin issue around the stoma has resolved.
  3. To seal the powder onto the skin, use a skin barrier spray such as Brava Skin Barrier Spray. This spray is non-alcoholic so that it won’t sting or burn the area. Spray the barrier spray over the stoma powder, dab with a skin prep wipe, and fan to dry. The barrier spray will turn clear when set and form a crust on the skin that acts as a layer of protection.
  4. Repeat Step 3 for additional layers of protection and allow each layer to dry completely before applying the next layer. Two to three layers should be sufficient.
  5. You are now ready to apply your ostomy pouching system as usual. Your physician may suggest an anti-fungal stoma powder if you develop a rash or itch that does not improve. This condition could be a sign of a yeast infection.

Skin Care Tips for Skin Issues Around the Stoma

Sometimes problems develop despite the effort made to keep peristomal skin clean and healthy. Staying educated about this area can help you learn about what to look out for and how to manage problems that may arise with peristomal skin.

Hollister Inc. has put together a convenient Peristomal Skin Care Tips brochure that outlines what the skin around the stoma should look like and suggestions to take.

Common Questions for Treating Skin Issues Around the Stoma

When should I use stoma powder under my skin barrier?

If the skin around the stoma is irritated, red, painful, or there is a rash present, you may want to use a stoma powder for treating the affected skin. Ensure you speak to your physician first to ensure you are using the correct stoma powder under their direction.

What kind of powder should I use if my skin has a red, raised, pimply rash?

zeasorb antifungal body powderRed, raised, pimply rash symptoms are good indicators that you may have a yeast infection. Choosing an anti-fungal stoma powder that contains 2% Miconazole, such as Zeasorb Antifungal Powder, should be able to address this condition. Check with your physician first to confirm that this is the proper course of action.

How do I use stoma powder?

Stoma powder is very easy and quick to apply in just a few steps.

  1. Start by washing your hands with soap and water.
  2. Clean the skin around your stoma with either wipes or warm soapy water and pat dry.
  3. Sprinkle the stoma powder all around the peristomal skin and brush off any excess with your fingertips.
  4. Use an alcohol-free skin prep and dab the powder to set for approximately 10-15 seconds until completely dry.
  5. Continue with your usual ostomy pouch change process.

Stoma powder is not helping my skin irritation. What do I do?

ConvaTec Sure-fit Natura moldable barrierTry removing the adhesive and check the backside. Feces or urine may have leaked and caused irritation between the skin barrier and the peristomal skin. Ensuring that there is a nice and secure fit of your skin barrier is one of the most critical steps to maintain healthy skin around the stoma. Moldable Technology by ConvaTec might be a helpful solution.

Could I be allergic to the adhesives used in my ostomy pouching system?

You may be allergic to the components used in your pouching system or the supporting products such as sprays, wipes, or pastes. Try washing your peristomal skin with just warm, soapy water for a period and see if the symptoms subside. If the symptoms go away, certain ingredients in the supporting products you are using are causing the allergic reaction. Consult with your physician about your symptoms, and they may be able to recommend alternative products.

Giving Your Peristomal Skin a Break Between Ostomy Appliance Changes

Sometimes giving your peristomal skin a break between ostomy appliance changes can help maintain healthy skin. After removing your skin barrier and ostomy pouch, try leaving your skin uncovered for 30 minutes or so. Make sure to have a towel or container nearby to catch any leaks that may occur. Taking a skin break can help with skin issues around the stoma or keep it from happening.

We carry a wide variety of ostomy products and supplies at Personally Delivered for all types and sizes of stomas. Suppose you need assistance choosing what ostomy products are right for you or finding ostomy supplies that your physician has recommended. In that case, our Product Experts are here to help guide you through the purchasing process. Just give us a call, and we will make it easy for you.

Popular Ostomy Products & Supplies

AllKare Adhesive Remover Wipes

AllKare Adhesive Remover Wipes

Nu-Hope Ostomy Cement Adhesive

Nu-Hope Adhesive

M9 Odor Eliminator Spray

M9 Odor Eliminator Apple Scented Spray

Coloplast SenSura Mio Click Convex Barrier

Coloplast SenSura Mio barrier
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Arthritis with an Ostomy: Tips to Help Manage

Living with an ostomy already has its challenges. However, suffering from arthritis with an ostomy can increase the difficulty of specific tasks such as opening tubes of stoma paste, stiffness when bending over to empty the ostomy appliance, or using scissors for a cut-to-fit ostomy barrier. Having arthritis with an ostomy doesn’t have to mean a total loss of independence. Take a look at some helpful tips for managing these conditions below.

Types of Arthritis & Other Conditions That May Affect Hand Dexterity

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that affects a person’s immune system and attacks their tissues. The feeling often experienced is a burning pain accompanied by swelling and sometimes stiffness in the joints, particularly in the hands, shoulders, knees, and feet.  Many also report feeling fatigued throughout the day.

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. Due to the cells’ changes as we age, osteoarthritis develops between the ages of 45-90 years. The cartilage in the fingers and weight-bearing joints such as the knees, hips, back, and feet are affected. Pain, stiff joints, and swelling are also a symptom of osteoarthritis.

Fibromyalgia

While fibromyalgia is not a type of arthritis, it can co-occur with other types of arthritis. Fibromyalgia is a type of chronic pain syndrome that can cause immense fatigue and pain in muscles, joints, and other soft tissues. It has no known cause or cure at this time. However, research indicates it may be related to genetics (family history), having coexisting conditions such as arthritis or lupus, going through prolonged stress or trauma, or having a viral illness. The pain from fibromyalgia can range from mild to severe and include stiffness, burning, throbbing, or stabbing sensations in the muscles. Fatigue, depression, anxiety, numbness, tingling, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and cystitis have been reported.

Gout

Gout occurs when uric acid crystals are deposited in the joints and cause inflammation. The body breaks down proteins, which then form this uric acid. Gout usually affects one joint at a time, especially in the big toes. The ankles, knees, hands, wrists, and elbows are other joints that can be affected.  Common symptoms of gout include pain, warmth, redness, and swelling. Most gout onsets occur quickly and can remain for up to a week if left untreated. Excess alcohol consumption, being overweight, water pills, surgery, or sudden illness are just some of the things that can trigger and aggravate gout.

Reiter’s Syndrome

Reiter’s Syndrome is a type of arthritis that occurs as a reaction to an infection somewhere else in the body. It may be related to intestinal infections such as Salmonella or urinary tract infections. Reiter’s Syndrome’s symptoms can include inflammation of the joints, tendons, eyes, urinary tract, or skin and may involve a rash or fever.

Scleroderma

Scleroderma involves a thickening of the skin on the fingers, arms, and sometimes the face. There are often color changes in the hands from pale blue to red, small calcium deposits that form nodules on the fingertips, and stiffness in the joints with these indicators. Indigestion, diarrhea, or constipation can also be other symptoms.

Enteropathic Arthritis

Enteropathic arthritis often accompanies inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Painful, hot, and stiff joints are common symptoms of enteropathic arthritis, and when the gastrointestinal disease goes into remission, the arthritic symptoms go along with it.

Tips if You Have Arthritis with an Ostomy

Arthritis in the Hands

hollister new image two-piece ostomy pouch with integrated closureOpening packets of an ostomy product such as stoma paste, peeling off backing papers, and cutting holes in skin barriers can be challenging for those with arthritis in their hands. Many manufacturers have noticed this problem that those with arthritis and an ostomy face and have made some adjustments to their packaging.

ConvaTec has Moldable Technology that eliminates the need for scissors to customize the hole around the stoma. There is a helpful and informative article at the end of this blog that goes into detail about ConvaTec Moldable Technology. ConvaTec also offers many pre-cut barrier options, such as the ConvaTec Esteem + One-Piece Pre-Cut Closed-End Pouch, which can help.

arthritis compression gloves for those with arthritis with an ostomyMany drainable ostomy bags feature integrated closures instead of clips. The Hollister New Image Pouch has an easy Lock N Roll Microseal closure that is excellent for those with dexterity problems.

Tubes of ostomy paste, such as the Hollister Adapt Paste, come in a soft tube that you can use a credit card or paste dispenser to glide the formula out easily.

Having a pair of arthritis compression gloves can also be very helpful. Not only will they help keep a better grip on items, but these gloves may also help increase circulation and reduce pain.

Arthritis in the Neck and Back

adjustable mirror to aid in changing an ostomy applianceArthritis in the neck and back can cause stiffness, and bending over to view the stoma when changing your appliance may be difficult. A suggestion to help make this a bit easier may be to sit down and lean back somewhere comfortable with a desk or table in front or beside you. Place a mirror on the table and face it down toward your ostomy appliance. A mirror that easily adjusts to all angles would work best.

Stiffness Getting On and Off the Toilet

Railings can be installed around the toilet to help stabilize yourself when emptying your ostomy bag. Another option that might be helpful when getting on and off the toilet and entering and exiting the bathtub is a transfer bench. This adaptive equipment piece works as an added safety feature to allow those with arthritis with an ostomy to take their time when sitting and rising to stand up.

Using Adaptive Equipment and Experiencing Leaks

If you are using a wheelchair or a walker, these types of adaptive equipment require the use of both hands. A leaking ostomy appliance while using one of these kinds of devices requires at least one hand to minimize the leakage. Preparing emergency supplies in a bag attached to the wheelchair or walker can be a possible solution to this problem. Having emergency ostomy supplies around the home can also alleviate some stress knowing that your needed supplies are nearby.

There are many other aids for those who have arthritis with an ostomy and can be found at your local pharmacy. Items such as easy-open pill bottles, grippers to unscrew lids, push-button pill reminder boxes, and more can be beneficial aids. You can reach out to a local occupational therapist or your local hospital for more information about where to find products made to help those with arthritis accomplish tasks more manageable.

Maintaining independence is essential to self-esteem, but remember to ask for help when you need it. The last thing you need when suffering from arthritis with an ostomy is having an accident that can potentially worsen your condition.

For even more information about arthritis, ease of use products, treatments, hundreds of articles, and even a drug guide, visit the Arthritis Foundation. You can even click to find your local area and connect.

For any inquiries about ostomy appliances, adaptive equipment, or any other home delivery medical supplies we carry at Personally Delivered, our Product Experts are just a phone call away and ready to help.

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