Mountain View Medical Supply

Monday, October 7, 2013

Ostomates: The Flu And What To Do

Adapted from The Flu And What To Do, Ostomy Association of Metro Denver, Sept-Oct 2013

The flu brings with it headaches, upset stomach, diarrhea, muscle aches and pains!  The advice most given:  plenty of fluids and rest in bed.  This remains sound medical advice for the general attack of the virus.  But if your case of the flu includes that "bug-a-boo" diarrhea, and you are an ostomate, you may find the following hints helpful.

For those with a colostomy, remember your intestine is really washing itself out and it is not wise to irrigate during this time.  After diarrhea has stopped, you will have a sluggish colon for a few days, so again, "leave it alone".  Start irrigation again after a few days when your colon has had a chance to return to normal. 

For the ileostomate, diarrhea is a greater hazard.  Along with the excess water discharge, there is a loss of electrolytes and vitamins that are necessary in maintaining good health.  This loss is usually referred to as a loss of fluid which in turn, brings a state of dehydration.  Ileostomates must restore electrolyte balance.  First, eliminate all solid food.  Second, obtain potassium safely and effectively from tea, bullion, and ginger ale.  Third, obtain sodium from saltine crackers or salted pretzels.  Fourth, drink a lot of water.  Cranberry juice and orange juice also contain potassium, while bullion and tomato juice are good sources of sodium. 

Vomiting also brings the threat of dehydration.  If it is severe and continuing, your doctor should be notified, or go to the ER.  You should also know that diarrhea may be symptomatic of partial obstruction or an acute attack of gastroenteritis.  Since the treatment of these two entities is entirely different, a proper diagnosis should be made as rapidly as possible if obstruction is suspected (because of localized cramping).  A physician should be sought immediatly. 

So you can see why it is so important to determine whether the diarrhea is caused by obstruction or gastroenteritis.  If you do not know and are not 100% certain of what you are doing, or what is going on, check immediately with your doctor. 

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