What Is an Ileostomy and What Should You Know About It?

What Is an Ileostomy and What Should You Know About It?

Posted by Jeanne Lowry on Mar 17th 2023

What Is an Ileostomy and What Should You Know About It?

Most people are already familiar with the term colostomy, and some have even heard of its urinary-based counterpart, the urostomy. However, not many have heard of ileostomies before. While they are similar to colostomies, they differ in one significant way, which we’ll cover in this short guide to what ileostomies are and what you should know about them.

What Is an Ileostomy?

Most medical conditions that call for a colostomy surgery tend to originate in the colon. This procedure allows your waste to exit the body through a stoma in the large intestine before it reaches the damaged tissue. However, some issues can either extend into the large intestine or even originate there. That’s when an ileostomy becomes necessary.

This procedure involves the creation of a stoma in the small intestine, giving your waste a way out of the body that completely avoids the large intestine. Fortunately, many ileostomies are temporary and will only last for three to six months. However, they can be permanent if the damage is irreversible.

On the outside, though, all ostomies look relatively the same. Ileostomies are usually on the right side of the body and are positioned a bit higher than colostomies. Ileostomies are also a bit smaller, so you’ll need to find an ostomy supplies company that carries pouches specifically for this type of stoma.

How Do You Care for an Ileostomy?

Speaking of ostomy products, you’ll need to take special care of your ileostomy to ensure it remains in good condition. This involves washing it with water regularly and changing your pouch often to avoid skin irritation. On occasion, it’s a good idea to use incontinence-based creams and ointments to keep the skin around the stoma rejuvenated. As long as you use a gentle touch, you shouldn’t encounter any significant issues when caring for your ileostomy.

What Lifestyle Changes Are Necessary?

Now that you have a better understanding of what an ileostomy is, there’s one final thing you should know about it—it will come with some lifestyle changes. For instance, for a few weeks after the surgery, you’ll need to be careful about your physical activity. Lots of bodily stress could injure your new stoma. You’ll also need to be careful of what you eat since some food might irritate it.

Fortunately, you will reach a point where you’ll be able to return to most of your regular physical activities. While this will apply to your diet as well when dealing with an ileostomy, you’ll need to keep a couple of things in mind.

The main thing to be aware of is that you’ll need to avoid foods such as nuts, seeds, and some vegetables. Your food will have less time to digest since your large intestine won’t be helping anymore. That means you’ll need to skip foods that normally don’t digest well. Other than that, you should be able to continue your life as normal.