Living With A Colostomy Bag: Tips To Take Care Of Your Colostomy Bag

January 13, 2023

It would take a considerable time to get adjusted to the consequences of ostomy— a surgical opening in the abdomen area that removes urine/waste from the body. 

There would be many concerns you might need an answer to. Is it possible to work after a colostomy? What are the diet plans and exercise plans with an ostomy? 

In this blog, we’ve developed a complete guide that answers all these questions and discusses the best tips to take care of your colostomy bag.

What is Colostomy?

Before delving deeper into the tips and tricks to lead a healthy lifestyle with a colostomy bag, let’s understand what colostomy is all about. 

The colon is a part of your digestive system, and the initial 4 or 5 feet of the large intestine. This absorbs water and leftover nutrients from the feces ( waste) and takes them to the body. 

The waste is then carried to the rectum and gets out of the body through the anus. If the rectum, colon, or anus fails to implement the desired bowel movements, your body needs to push out the waste with another suitable method. 

A colostomy or stoma connects the colon with the abdomen’s surface, paving a way for gas and waste material to exit your body. 

Eating Habits After Colostomy Surgery

You can get a dietician consultation to understand the diet you should follow till the colon heals and minimizes your irritation and pain. 

Here are the core guidelines you must follow:

  • Have small and frequent meals instead of large ones
  • Eat slowly and gently
  • Chew the food properly 
  • Drink fluids and 8-10 cups of water every day

What should you include in your healthy balanced diet? You can choose low-fiber and bland flavor foods for the first few weeks post-surgery. 

Include more fiber-rich food in your diet and check if digestion improves. Replace fatty or fried meat with lean meats. Use refined grains for meal preparation like pasta, rice, and bread instead of whole grains or beans. 

Ensure that you choose non-carbonated drinks such as decaffeinated coffee, tea, etc., and normal water. Stay away from alcohol and caffeine which irritate your digestive system.

Exercise Tips with a Colostomy

Talking to your doctor and getting advice on safe and healthy exercise after a colostomy surgery is important. 

Here are the key tips worth considering while living with an ostomy bag:

Can You Run with a Colostomy?

Have a word with your doctor before you run. They would suggest walking in the initial phase. 

Running too much can create soft or red marks around the stoma that resemble mouth ulcers. Make sure the pouch feels comfortable while you run.

Is it Safe to Perform Sit-ups?

Situps, heavy lifting, and crunches can develop a parastomal hernia (around the stoma). Healthy weight is a solution to prevent this concern. 

You should get the doctor’s advice before doing this exercise.

How to Swim with a Colostomy?

You can swim with the pouch, however, get your doctor’s approval to avoid complications. 

Check the snugness of the pouch seal to know if the bag is tight enough and enables swimming.

Remain Hydrated Every Time

Drink a lot of water while you engage in physical exercises. A pale yellow or clear urine indicates that you have adequate water in the system. 

However darker colors impact general health and warn you about dehydration.

Working with an Ostomy Bag

Working isn’t a concern once your bowel heals completely. You might need a support belt if the job involves too much heavy lifting or stress. 

It might take weeks to recover and you may feel tired once you return. It’s advised to perform lighter tasks initially and keep it least stressful for you.

Factors That Influence the Pouch Seal

Many factors together decide the duration for which the pouch gets sealed to the skin. These could be skin conditions, weather, diet, weight changes, etc. 

Let’s dive deep into the factors that influence the pouch seal:

Sweating and oily skin can reduce the days you can wear the system. Body heat is another concern that loosens skin barriers. 

Weight changes change the shape of the abdomen and you would need a different system. Foods with watery output easily break the seal compared to the thick discharge. 

Swimming, sports, and other physical activities can also affect the durability of the pouch seal.

Ultimate Care Guide to Managing a Colostomy Bag

Wonder what’s an ostomy bag? An ostomy pouch is a collecting bag that gathers the stool your ostomy releases. 

The skin barrier is a part of the pouch that protects the skin while sticking to it. 

You can get the right home nursing services to seek help in changing and emptying the pouching system. 

You don’t require any sterile supplies— use toilet paper, paper towels, or facial tissues instead to clean the skin around the stoma.

Steps for Routine Ostomy Care

  • Emptying the pouch while it’s half full can avoid bulges. Empty it 1-3 times a day. You can change the pouch once every week.
  • Sit/stand next to the toilet and remove the clamp while holding up the tail of the pouch. Now empty the stool from the tail to the toilet and wipe it to rinse out the pouch well. Check for leaks or tears and replace the pouch if needed. 
  • Fix the bar of the clamp to the tail of your pouch. Ensure that the bar covers the overall width of the pouch, and tighten the clamp until it’s locked.

How to Change the Ostomy Pouch?

  • You should change the pouch at least every 7 days. Use either adhesive remover or water to get off the old pouch.
  • Wash properly and dry the skin around the stoma.
  • Press an end of the skin barrier and create a wet pattern to fit in the new pouch.
  • Use scissors to cut out the opening near the wet pattern.
  • You may keep the opening over the stoma to check if it fits. Use your fingers to widen the opening if it’s small. 

How to Attach the New Pouch?

  • Take off the paper that backs the skin barrier.
  • Place a thick ostomy paste ring in the area that surrounds the opening.
  • 1-2 minutes after the paste sets, apply the skin barrier to the skin around the stoma. 
  • If the pouch is separate, you can now attach the pouch. 
  • Further, clamp across the entire tail width and keep pressing until it locks. 

Tips to Protect the Skin Around the Stoma

It’s necessary to ensure that the skin around the stoma and the skin on the abdomen looks the same. 

However, the ostomy might result in sore or tender skin. The following steps can help to maintain healthy skin:

Choose the right pouch and skin barrier

Too small openings can injure the stoma and cause swelling while large openings can cause skin irritation. It’s ideal to change the skin barrier and pouch to replace it with what fits the best. 

Exercise regular changing of pouching system

Changing the pouch regularly can eliminate skin irritation. Also, never wait for the problems like itching, leaks, or burning sensations to change the pouching system. 

Pull the pouching system carefully off the skin

Be careful while you peel off the pouch from your skin and never remove it more than once a day if there are no issues or concerns. Push the skin off the sticky barrier and remove the pouch gently. 

Use water to clean the skin that surrounds the stoma

Dry the skin before you adopt this step. Clean the skin well with water and then put it on the new pouch or skin barrier. 

Look out for allergies or sensitivities

Sensitivities or allergies can arise after weeks, months, or sometimes years after you use the product. If you feel irritated with the pouch that touches the skin, replace it with a different brand. 

You can also get ideas from your stoma nurse for an ideal pouch material.

When do You Need a Doctor’s Immediate Help?

You need to seek immediate healthcare if you experience the following:

  • Cramps that last for 2-3 hours
  • No stoma output for 4-6 hours
  • Frequent vomiting and nausea
  • Continuous watery discharge for 5-6 hours
  • Infection or bad odor for more than one week
  • Injury or cut in the stoma
  • Ulcers or unbearable skin irritation 
  • Uncontrolled bleeding in stoma opening or where stoma and skin meet (Note: Beets intake can also produce red discoloration)
  • Change in the size or color of the stoma
  • Unusual feeling with the ostomy

The Parting Shot

Ostomy care is one of the most crucial medical requirements due to the complexity and the inability to take care of a colostomy without help. 

Salamati Health Care has the best home healthcare services in Dubai with a team of healthcare practitioners and nurses to offer exclusive medical care at home. 

The licensed nurses offer assistance in changing ostomy bags, diet education, pouch changing and measurements, and managing the lifestyle. 

The dedicated home nursing services help patients to live a normal life with ostomy and experience faster recovery while comfortably living lives in homes or hotels. 




Salamati is one of the premium healthcare providers in Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, and the UAE. We provide a wide range of healthcare services in the comfort of your home, hotel, or office. Our services include home nursing care, physiotherapy, speech therapy, doctor on-call, and nutrition consultation at home.


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