Let’s debunk these common ostomy misconceptions!
It can be challenging to weed through fact and fiction when it comes to all things ostomy. We asked certified ostomy nurses to outline some of the most common myths they hear about living with an ostomy to give you the truth.
You have no choice but to just use the ostomy pouching system in the hospital or doctor’s office that you have been fitted with.
Reality: You may find your stoma and body changing in the weeks and months following ostomy surgery. Your ostomy pouch type or brand may also need to be changed in the first few weeks and months after surgery.
All stoma bags are the same. What type of pouching system you wear doesn’t matter.
Reality: This is a very common misperception. Quite the contrary to popular belief, there are a wide variety of ostomy products available to suit the needs of each individual living with an ostomy.
A few months after surgery, your stoma should not change in size.
Reality: Your stoma may alter in size and appearance in the weeks and months following ostomy surgery.
A normal way of life with an ostomy is to have skin irritation.
Reality: If you have a stoma, you may experience infection if the skin around your stoma becomes damaged. The key to maintaining both healthy peristomal skin and your comfort is prevention. To help keep the skin around your stoma healthy, it is important that your skin barrier fits properly. Choose a well-fitting pouching system to help prevent irritating stoma contents from coming into contact with your skin. Make an easy-to-follow schedule for your pouching system. This will ensure your skin barrier is changed before the adhesive has eroded, reducing the chance of urine or faeces coming into contact with your skin. Your schedule should be personalised based on your system type and the advice of your doctor or ostomy nurse.
If you have an ostomy, you will not be loved the same way by your significant other.
Reality: Anxiety over relationships following ostomy surgery is common. With your partner, be open and honest about any concerns you have. Remember, having an ostomy is nothing to be ashamed of.
WHEN YOU HAVE AN OSTOMY, ODOUR IS A PART OF LIFE.
Reality: Over time, you will become more comfortable with your ostomy pouch and gain trust in its capacity to retain odours.
NOW THAT I HAVE AN OSTOMY, I CAN’T ENJOY THE FOODS I LOVE ANYMORE.
Reality: You may be more sensitive to foods right out of surgery than you will be in six months from surgery. Add various foods to your diet slowly, and pay attention to the response of your body.
I HAVE A COLOSTOMY OR AN ILEOSTOMY, SO THERE’S NOTHING I SHOULD PASS ON FROM MY RECTUM.
Reality: While this topic may not be something you want to openly discuss, it is a common question stoma wearers have. Even following ostomy surgery, the colon or rectum may produce mucus. Contact your healthcare professional if you have questions about this issue.
I can’t get my pouch wet, which means I can’t bathe with my pouching system in place or enjoy water activities.
Reality: With your pouching system in place, you may shower, go swimming, or even get into the hot tub. When using a filter pouch, cover the filter with the provided cover.
Without your ostomy system off, do not shower.
Reality: You can shower with an ostomy system in place or without it. Remember that the adhesive is designed to actually stick more tightly when exposed to water, so it may be better to change your bag before you bathe or shower.
An ostomy prevents you from wearing clothes that are stylish and form-fitting. People are going to be able to see I’ve got an ostomy.
Reality: Did you notice an ostomy pouch on other individuals in public before you had ostomy surgery? Likely not. To help conceal your bag and increase your confidence, try a wrap or special undergarments.
Medical Aid does not cover ostomy care, so I pay for my supplies out of pocket.
Fact: To understand what your insurance plan covers and pays for ostomy supplies, contact your insurance coverage provider. Some medical aids will cover all expenses related to ostomy surgery, ostomy pouches, and so on.
You should rinse your pouches and/or reuse them.
Reality: Ostomy systems and pouches are not recommended for rinsing or reusing. Water can break down the barrier more quickly and damage the filter of the filtered bags. Closed ostomy bags are sealed all around the bottom and are meant to be used one time, and then discarded. They cannot be cleaned out or reused. That means you will go through more pouches, a drainable pouch can be reused for three to seven days before it would have to be thrown away.
People living with an ostomy cannot fly because the pressure in the cabin can make the pouch fail.
Reality: Ostomy patients can fly, ride in a car, or use any other travel mode.