Hydration Is so Important to Ostomates
WHY IS HYDRATION IMPORTANT
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.
MAINTAINING A FLUID BALANCE
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.
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.
ASSESSING FLUID BALANCE
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:
- Your mouth will become dry
- You could experience headaches
- Irritability can also be a symptom of being dehydrated.
- Fatigue can also be another symptom of being dehydrated.
- Your concentration could be affected and become very poor.
- 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.
IT WOULD BE MORE USEFUL TO USE VISION TO REMIND YOU TO DRINK FLUID.
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.