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Hydration Is so Important to Ostomates

Updated on August 4, 2017
Hydration if very important for Ostomates during the hot summer months. Our need is greater than the average person, due to the fact that part of our intestine has been removed and our intestinal function is compromised as a result of this.
Hydration if very important for Ostomates during the hot summer months. Our need is greater than the average person, due to the fact that part of our intestine has been removed and our intestinal function is compromised as a result of this.


Well, the summer months are here WOW WOW.

Hang on, yes the summer months are here and whilst these are the best months of the year, a time for lots of fun, frivolity and lots of relaxation, there is something that we OSTOMATES, have to remember. In staying on top and remaining healthy during this time, we have to watch our hydration and try very hard to stay hydrated during these warmer days.

Hydration is very important for OSTOMATES, much more so than for the average person. Once again, we can say that this is due to the fact that part of our intestine has been removed and our intestinal function is compromised, Three main factors will influence the degree to which the fluid balance is affected in an individual ostomate: the part of the bowel that has been removed, and the quantity and consistency of output.

Different parts of the gastrointestinal tract perform different functions:

Small Intestine: Mainly digests and absorbs all the nutrients from the foods that are eaten.

Large Intestine: Mainly has the job of absorbing water back into the body.

Therefore Colostomates, who have only had a small part of the large intestine removed may find that their ability to absorb water may not have been affected very much and may not need to compensate for reduced fluid absorption. Good news for them.

However, for those of you who are an Ileostomate like I am, the news is much different. When you have had all your large bowel removed and perhaps some of the small intestine as well, the need to replenish your fluid intake is much greater. However, over time, the small intestine will begin to compensate for the functions that the large bowel, but it can take some time for this adaptation to take place,

The requirement for extra fluid can also be affected by the nature of our stomal output. I know this sounds yucky, but it is important, so I will press on. If the output is very liquid and resembles the look of water, then it is IMPERATIVE that we replenish that fluid that we are losing. However, if on the other hand, the output has a thicker consistency and is more like a paste, then that means that less fluid is being lost by the body and (you will be pleased to know) your need to replace the fluid is not as great as ours is.


In a person with full intestinal function, , approx. 2.5 litres of fluid are lost from the body each day via the lungs (breathing), the skin (sweating), the kidneys (via urination) and the intestines. Out of these 2.5 litres, only 100 mls is usually from our intestines

However with an Ostomate , the amount of fluid that we lose from our intestines can be far greater, depending on the consistency and quantity of the output, Therefore when a person has had stomal surgery and has a liquid output (sorry more yucky stuff), then you can see that this quantity would be much higher.

Our fluid intake is usually obtained from both the foods that are moist ( which would be approx. 700 mls) and ingested liquids (usually approx. 1600 mls per day) with around 200 mls of fluid being produced within our body itself via metabolic processes.

Therefore, usual fluid intake which would be (approx. 2.5 litres per day) would normally keep a person in a positive fluid balance. However, as I have previously mentioned before, if the output from the gastrointestinal tract is higher than 100mls, which can sometimes be the case for an Ostomate , then the fluid that we must take in needs to be a lot higher than this.


Coffee does not rehydrate nor does it replenish fluids but it actually dehydrates and has
Coffee does not rehydrate nor does it replenish fluids but it actually dehydrates and has
Limes can be added to your water to make it more palatable.
Limes can be added to your water to make it more palatable.

Another important consideration in fluid balance is that fluids such as things like tea and coffee do not help with the process of hydrating and also with fluid replenishing, but actually will cause dehydrating and fluid depletion to take place. Therefore, when it comes to replacing fluids in the body, water is always the best option.

I found that if I add some fresh lime or lemon juice in the water it makes it more palatable. This will also help with absorption. Drinking herbal teas also can help with rehydrating our bodies.


The first step for an ostomate in assessing fluid balance is to determine the level of their output. This can easily be done by noting the number of times that you actually empty your bag per day and also estimating how many mls were in the bag each time (that is if the output is purely fluid). If you multiply the two figures over a whole day you can get a rough estimation of your output. It is then impotant to make sure this that this figure is at least exceeded, if not doubled, throughout the day to replenish any fluid loss that you may have. But apart from assessing your fluid balance how can we tell if we are dehydrated?

Some of the common symptoms of dehydration are:

  1. Your mouth will become dry
  2. You could experience headaches
  3. Irritability can also be a symptom of being dehydrated.
  4. Fatigue can also be another symptom of being dehydrated.
  5. Your concentration could be affected and become very poor.
  6. You could experience expisodes of fainting spells which could be caused if your blood pressure is low

All these symptoms can be indicative that fluid levels in the body are low.


I found out that as we get older, our thirst mechanism becomes less reliable as WE GET OLDER. In other words the sensation of thirst starts to weaken, and it isn't triggered as often as it is used to be. As we get older, we SHOULD NOT REPLY ON THE SENSATION OF THIRST TO TELL US WHEN TO DRINK.


Yes, drinking water is the best way for OSTOMATES TO REHYDRATE
Yes, drinking water is the best way for OSTOMATES TO REHYDRATE

Using drink bottles can also help to provide a visual reminder to drink fluid, as well as providing a measuring tool for knowing how much fluid has been consumed. A note of caution, do not consumed fluid fromn a drink bottle that has been left sitting in the sun or in the car duirng the summer months.DON'T EVER DRINK WATER FROM A BOTTLE AFTER IT HAS BEEN IN THE SUN, OR IN THE CAR DURING THE SUMMER MONTHS. THESE CHEMICALS COULD BE HAZARDOUS TO YOU. TAKE A TIP FROM ME IT IS SAFTER TO DRINK FROM A GLASS.


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    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I have problems with my kidneys and it appears to be a result of the high volume of the output (ileaostomy since 2006). Went to see a surgeon at the hospital where I had my op and the consultant was truly amazing. She explained that the kidneys could not cope with the output so prescribesd an E-Mix and loperamide. The E-mix is a mixture of glucose, sodium bicarbonate and sodium chloride to be dissolved in 1 litre of tap water. It doesn't taste nice but if you add lemon or lime flavour, it tastes better and replenish what you are missing. The loperamide slows down the process and frequency of the output so I hope my kidney specialist will see an improvement in my kidneys function.

      I wish I was given this advice earlier. Also, don't drink just water as it goes right through and washes away what your body needs to absorb. Herbal tea is good as well as juices.

      I hope this will be useful. Thank you for this hub, found helpful tips.

      Happy Easter and Passover to those celebrating.

    • profile image

      still learnin 

      8 years ago

      Does anyone get severe abdominal cramping and pains from dehydration? I don't know if it's dehydration or a blockage or something else. I haven't had a blockage yet (that I know of) so I still don't know for sure if that's what I'm experiencing! I have been an ileostomate for 2 years now and still I have unexplainable pains in my guts periodically. I always think back to what I ate and rarely does it have a connection.

    • BEAUTYBABE profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from QUEENSLAND AUSTRALIA.

      Hi Val,

      I apologise it has been so long for me to get back to you. I am so pleased that you were able to be helped by my hub on hydration of a osteomate. I find that metamucil is too harsh on my bowel because it is mainly used when you need to thicken up the effluent from the stoma. However, when I feel dehydrated, and you would have read the symptoms that you experience when you are dehydrated.

      I don't know where you are from whether your are an aussie or not, but in Australia, which is where I am from, I always keep a product called "Gastrolyte" in my cupboard as a powder that comes in sachets, and now it is also available as an ice block form mainly for children, but adults like them too. They are good if it is really hot, you just suck on them like an ordinary ice block and the electrolytes that you may need because of the ones you are losing through loose bowel actions in the bag, or vomiting or just dehydration will be made up and soon you will feel better. .

      I do hope this has helped and once again forgive for not not replying sooner but I haven't been well with my Multiple Systems Atrophy, which is a neurodegenerative disease and has no cure. My ulcerative colitis has come back and they are trying to decide what to do. My colorectal surgeon even says I have a "hostile abdomen", that is why I am having so many hassles.He is not keen to put me back on the operating table because I am to much of a high risk, unless it gets life threatening.

      I do have my writing though, which has made a big difference and I have Hubpages to thank for that. I have not only written over 100 poems, but I have just completed not one but two Childrens Story Books, and the best news is they are both going to be published. I was told that most people usually take up to two years to write their first childrens story. But, I have written two in under twelve months.

      The first one is from one of my poems The "Enchanted Garden" this is due out in early Easter. I am so excited, me a published writer.

      Well,if I can do it in the condition I am in, then so can others and I hope this will inspire others who are either sick or have another reason why their lives are turned upside down,to try harder, because I have proved to myself it was better to hang in there and no give up on life just because my body was giving up on me.

      I do hope you are okay and please feel free to write for any more advice if you need it and I will try and write sooner.

      God Bless Val. Pam Beautybabe.x

      The Second book will be out a little bit later than the first but I am not sure exactly when yet.

    • profile image

      joEllen Caudill 

      8 years ago

      Thank you for the useful information. My primary care physican doesn't seem to have a clue when it comes to my ileostomy, and what I need to do to stay healthy.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Hi Beautybabe..I have had ileoanal colon, no rectum. its bee 5 years and I constantly stuggle with hydration. was in the er one time for severe dehydration following a virus. my legs cramped and twisted, was on the pot every hour and vomited once. With sypmtoms like these it is hard to gain any ground with out IV fluids. I have been experimenting with coconut water which they say has more electrolytes and less sugar than gateraid. I think its a good addition. And metimucil mixed a bit heavier than the instructions suggest to slow transit time. What about imodium???? I heard to stay away from it but not sure why? Nice hub..hope to hear from you..Val

    • Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

      Pamela Dapples 

      9 years ago from Just Arizona Now

      A lot of information in here that I didn't know. I did have a friend who had these same ailments and procedures. She was not given the best of care as she lived in a smaller community. The best surgeons at the time were not in that community.

      I admire your positive and informed, knowledgeable attitude. I hope you are doing well. I notice you wrote this a couple of months ago.

    • batooo profile image


      9 years ago


    • BEAUTYBABE profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from QUEENSLAND AUSTRALIA.

      Hi Mark,

      I am glad that you were able to get some benefit from my hub.

      Are you an ostomate? If so do you have an ileostomy or colostomy?

      If there is any other way I can help you please let me know. I would be only too happy to help. Beautybabe.

    • profile image

      Mark Moller 

      9 years ago

      A lot of information here I was not aware of! Great hub. Hydration is always important and you want to make sure your getting the purest water possible to stay hydrated. Getting water filters installed makes this a lot cheaper and easier to do. is a good source for that.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      9 years ago from London, UK

      A very informative hub. Thank you.


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