Frequently Asked Questions

In order to obtain answers to your individually specific questions, be sure to consult with your healthcare professional for help and advice.

The following is a list of frequently asked questions. Click on a question to find the answer. Thank you to Claire Wilson for providing this information.

  • Q:Quick and easy guide on how to place an order online
  • To read our `Quick and easy guide on how to place an order online’ click here.

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  • Q:Is there an Ostomy Association I can join?
  • There are a number of ostomy associations or patient support groups that you could join.  For instance:

    Urostomy Association (www.urostomyassociation.org.uk)
    Colostomy Association (www.colostomyassociation.org.uk)
    Ileostomy Association (www.iasupport.org)

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  • Q:What code do I need to order/make sure I receive the right products?
  • Your stoma nurse will organise your prescription with the relevant codes for your appliances. Fittleworth is a Home Delivery Service that can arrange for your products to be delivered within 48 hours discreetly and free of charge to your door. For more information, please call Fittleworth on 0800 378 846.

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  • Q:My nurse gave me samples of a different product. How can I obtain further supplies?
  • If you are unsure which code you need to order, please call Fittleworth on 0800 378 846 and one of our advisors will be able to provide you with the relevant codes and arrange for them to be delivered.

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  • Q:Are pouches available in various sizes?
  • Yes. There are various ranges of sizes available. Speak to your stoma care nurse for details.

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  • Q:How can I ensure a longer wear time from my pouch/flange?
  • You can achieve a longer wear time for all flanges by ensuring a good seal around the stoma with no more than a 2mm gap between the stoma and the flange. Also warming the flange to body temperature first can help the adhesive gain a better adhesion to the skin; this can be achieved by placing a new flange next to your skin for 30 seconds before application. Also holding the flange in place for about 1 minute when applied helps the flange to draw moisture from the skin and so helps to give a better adhesion before you start bending and moving around.

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  • Q:What is the average wear time for a flange?
  • This can be different for Ileostomists, Colostomists and Urostomists as the output is more corrosive for Urostomists and Ileostomists. Pouches are usually changed 1-3 times daily for a Colostomist and daily to alternate days for Urostomists and Ileostomists.

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  • Q:What should my stoma look like?
  • A stoma looks like a small `spout’, deep pink in colour similar to the inside of the mouth. Although it looks raw it has no feeling. Your stoma will gradually settle down during the first 6-8 weeks after surgery and may reduce in size. Check it weekly with a measuring guide to make sure the hole in our pouch is a snug fit. If you are unsure of the right size for you, contact your healthcare professional for advice.

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  • Q:My stoma is prone to bleeding. What should I do?
  • The most common reason for a stoma to bleed is due to you being a little rough when removing, cleaning and replacing your pouch. Extra care should be taken if you are susceptible to bleeding but on the whole it is nothing to worry about. If you see blood coming from inside the stoma,  see your healthcare professional.

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  • Q:My stoma lies in a dip or crease. What should I do?
  • If you are not experiencing problems with your stoma bag then there is no need for concern. Sometimes leaks can occur with a flat flange and it may be worth trying a different type of bag that gently conforms into dips or creases.

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  • Q:My stoma is retracted. What should I do?
  • This is sometimes a difficult stoma to manage. Try and avoid sore skin through leakage. Many healthcare professionals will advise wearing a convex pouch to encourage the stoma to protrude but you should not change to a convex stoma bag without seeking advice from your healthcare professional.

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  • Q:What can I do about an odd shaped stoma?
  • There are stoma bags with different shaped adhesives to accommodate an odd shaped stoma. If you experience any difficulty in applying your pouch, please contact your healthcare professional.

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  • Q:I have a hernia. Is there any special advice?
  • A bulge around the stoma may indicate a hernia. If you are having a problem with keeping your stoma bag on you could try flange extenders, a stoma bag with an oval adhesive. Many people with a hernia find that wearing a belt helps, as it will offer extra support. Support garments are also available. For further advice talk to your stoma care nurse or a hernia garment manufacturer.

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  • Q:I worry about odour. What can I do?
  • If your bag is correctly fitted there should be no odour.  If you do notice a smell from your bag you should check it as there may be a leakage under the flange and the bag will need changing.  If you are concerned, speak to your stoma care nurse and they can advise ways of dealing with odours.  Certain foods can affect the smell of your output.  Please see the Dietary Leaflet from Fittleworth ostomy_dietary_guide.pdf .

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  • Q:I suffer from sore skin. Are there any tips?
  • Sore skin is very often caused by wearing a stoma bag with the wrong hole size for you.  This allows output to seep into the surrounding skin.  If this occurs the stoma should be re-measured by using the backing paper of the adhesive as a guide.  You may want to stand in front of a mirror to do this or ask your stoma care nurse for advice.

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  • Q:I often find it difficult to get my pouch to stay on my body
  • Make sure the skin is completely dry before applying your stoma bag and do not use creams on the skin as these can interfere with adhesion.  It is also important to ensure your pouch fits snugly around your stoma.

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  • Q:What can I do about leaks?
  • Leaks can occur for a variety of different reasons.  Following are some of the reasons they can happen:-

    • Stoma bag hole is too large – needs to be a snug fit
    • Stoma bag is applied incorrectly e.g. creases in adhesive and abdominal skin behind the bag needs to be gently stretched
    • Skin it too moist – make sure skin is dry before applying the stoma bag
    • Stoma is in a dip or crease – try paste or washers or different bags whose adhesive gently conforms to the body’s shape
    • Stoma is flat or retracted – you may need a stoma bag with a convex flange but you need to see a stoma care nurse first
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  • Q:What can I do if I experience a skin reaction?
  • It is very rare to have a reaction to a pouch as the materials used in their manufacture are constantly tested and evaluated for skin friendliness.  If you have suffered from a skin reaction the first thing you should do is check that you have not used something different in your normal routine i.e. change of soap or barrier wipe.  If there is no difference in your normal procedure, you may have to change your product and see if the problem goes away.  If you are concerned speak to your stoma care nurse.

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  • Q:What can I do about `pancaking’?
  • Pancaking happens when a vacuum occurs in the stoma bag and the bag sticks together preventing the contents from going to the bottom.  Faeces remain at the top of the bag and can be potential blocks of the filter.  The bag can also be forced off the body.  One tip is to blow air into the pouch when you fit it, which will help stop a vacuum occurring.  A drop of baby oil opposite the aperture can sometimes help the output to slide to the bottom of the pouch.  Also some people find that rolling up toilet paper to form a cigarette shape and dropping it into the pouch helps.

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  • Q:How do I dispose of the contents of my stoma bag?
  • There are a number of options as follows:-

    Wrap the entire soiled stoma bag and dispose of it in a refuse bag for waste disposal.  Some district councils have clinical waste collections.  Check with yours

    • If you have a colostomy you can try a flushable pouch
    • Drainable bags can be emptied into the toilet
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  • Q:How soon after ostomy surgery can I return to a normal diet ?
  • Begin slowly, depending upon your recovery and/or other medical complications.  Add back one new food at a time.

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  • Q:Are there any foods I should avoid eating?
  • Most ostomists can eat a very varied diet, leaving out only the things which upset them as individuals.  As a general rule however, Ileostomists should avoid foods that could cause blockage, such as sweetcorn, mushrooms, celery and nuts.

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  • Q:Will spicy foods cause any damage to my stoma?
  • If you can tolerate spicy foods through your digestive system, the stoma is tough and can tolerate spicy foods too, although you should be aware that following a spicy meal your stoma output may increase.

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  • Q:How will different foods affect me after ostomy surgery?
  • Check them out.  You may find some foods to be troublesome and others may not.  Your stoma care nurse will be able to advise you on foods to avoid.

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  • Q:Will my ileostomy continue to produce output even if I do not eat?
  • Gas and digestive juices continue to be produced.  Eat small meals to keep something in the gut.

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  • Q:What is meant by `low residue’ diet?
  • Low-residue refers to a dietary regime which eliminates bulk-forming, hard-to-digest or high-fibre foods.

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  • Q:How can I help settle down excessive wind?
  • This is a problem that most ostomists have at some time or other.  There are a number of foods you can eat which should alleviate it.  Natural yogurt, charcoal biscuits, fennel tea and peppermint oil capsules all help to settle down flatulence.

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  • Q:Travel tips for ostomists
    • Pre-cut all pouches at home, so scissors are not necessary in your hand luggage
    • Pack ostomy supplies in at least 2 places
    • Take extra supplies in case you are stranded where supplies may not be available
    • A statement from your physician stating your need for ostomy supplies might be helpful.  Also a statement advocating a private area is used in case of an extended search
    • If travelling to a foreign country, it is a good idea to have critical ostomy information written in their language.  Fittleworth publish a World Assist Alliance booklet.  Please contact Fittleworth for details on 0800 378 846
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  • Q:While travelling:-
    • Pack any prescription medication that you take in the original prescription labelled container
    • Organise and take with you a prescription or letter from your doctor for carrying ostomy supplies
    • Carry any small, rounded scissors that you may use in your checked-in luggage or pre-cut wafers to your needed size before departing and store them in zipped bags in your carry-on luggage
    • Empty your pouch before boarding the plane
    • Take along twice the supplies you would normally use for the number of days of the trip to be sure you have enough for unforeseen circumstances
    • Store supplies in a cool place
    • Check ahead of time for local association contacts or ostomy suppliers in the area you are visiting
    • To prevent possible problems, be sure to use bottled water for drinking, brushing teeth and irrigating
    • Always carry your ostomy supplies and medications in your hand luggage
    • Be careful about what you eat just before flying to minimise output
    • Sip on bottled water during the flight (car or train trip) to stay hydrated
    • Using a pouch with a filter may be good for long flights
    • On long flights don’t be afraid to use the restroom, but be sure to go before you are in emergency need of going; this will make using the rather cramped facilities much easier
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  • Q:Can I swim whilst wearing an ostomy pouch?
  • Yes, you can.  Many ostomy products are designed to be used whilst bathing or swimming.  A patch is placed over the charcoal filter.

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  • Q:Peristomal hernias?
  • When a stoma is brought out to the surface it must pass through the muscles of the abdominal wall, thus a potential site of weakness is immediately created.  In the ideal situation, the abdominal wall muscles form a snug fit around the stoma opening.  However, sometimes the muscles come away from the edges of the stoma thus creating a stoma hernia where there is no muscle.  Factors that can contribute to causing a stoma hernia to occur include coughing, being overweight, or having developed an infection in the wound at the time the stoma was made.

    The development of a stoma hernia is often a gradual phenomenon, with the area next to the stoma stretching and becoming weaker over the passage of time.  This weakness, or gap, means that every time one strains, coughs, sneezes or stands up, the area of the abdomen next to the stoma bulges, or the whole stoma protrudes as it is pushed forward by the rest of the abdominal contents behind it.  As with all hernias, the size will increase as time goes by.  They may make it difficult to attach a bag properly and sometimes their sheer size is an embarrassment as they can be seen beneath clothes.

    Regardless of inconvenience or pain, hernias are defects in the abdominal wall and should not be ignored simply because they might not hurt.  If you have concerns regarding a possible hernia talk to your local stoma care nurse.

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  • Q:Will I be able to wear the clothes that I have now or will I have to purchase looser apparel?
  • You can expect to wear, with little exception, the clothes you wore before surgery.  This includes tight clothing and bathing suits, as long as you feel comfortable.

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