Essential Supplies for Stoma Care and Management
After undergoing colostomy surgery, patients usually wake up from the effects of anaesthesia to find a colostomy bag, a pouch like appliance, attached to their abdomen.
This appliance is the most necessary of all colostomy supplies required for colostomy patients, and without them, stoma care and its daily management becomes totally impossible.
For those patients who knew they’ll be having the surgical procedure, it really doesn’t come as a surprise to find themselves wearing a bag. They already knew what to expect.
But many colostomy operations are carried out in an emergency, especially when the survival of the patient depends on it and those who had to have an emergency operation due to unexpected trauma always experience that initial shock.
This shock is mild in some cases and severe in others but usually after the “wooziness” wears off and patients see the attached colostomy bag, their minds become filled with so many questions, and their emotions run “all over the place”.
However, as the doctors explain carefully to them about their current condition and what they have attached to their abdomen, and why; the realisation starts to sink in, there and then the acceptance and mind healing process begins.
Introducing Patients to Colostomy Supplies
Once all the preliminaries and explanations to patients are taken care of, they are shown all the necessary ostomy supplies, each and everything they will need for some time is supplied and patients are tutored on how to use them.
ET nurses that specialise in stoma care will carefully and patiently, each and everyday while in hospital; show patients how to use colostomy products and how to manage their stoma well.
Stoma Care Products
Colostomy supplies which include the Modern Colostomy Pouches and other essential products can be neatly packed into stoma care bags that come in different sizes, each with compartments.
These bags are nice and handy and they ensure all the colostomy supplies are kept clean, organised and easy to carry around.
The colostomy bags are by far the most important of all ostomy supplies, and they have two variants, the one and two piece systems.
One piece system - These types of colostomy bags consist of a collection bag with an adhesive plate which adheres to the abdomen and fits firmly around the stoma.
Two piece systems - They consist of the adhesive faceplate and the faeces collection bag. They are both separate entities, but the two halves have to be securely fitted together by means of clipping or sealing.
The adhesive plate stays fixed on the stomach and doesn't have to be removed from around the stoma every time a filled colostomy bag has to be changed.
Closed end pouch/bag - One type of colostomy bag is the closed end bags. They are most commonly used by patients who have regular waste elimination patterns.
Many patients who adhere to a simple colostomy diet can use closed end pouches successfully because they can fairly well predict the pattern and timing of their bowel movements.
Closed end colostomy bags are good for one time usage, and once they are filled, they need to be removed and disposed of.
Open end colostomy bags - The other type is the open end bag which can be emptied whilst attached to the abdomen. These open end pouches (with the opening at the bottom end) have an effective closing and sealing device.
Traditionally, small clamps or tail clips were used as the closing device, but now with advanced technology in the production of ostomy bags, they can be folded over a few times and sealed with Velcro. Open end colostomy bags can be used more than once, and all a patient need to do is open it up, empty the faeces into a toilet, and seal it back up again.
Colostomy supplies, the one piece and two piece ostomy pouches can come as close end bags or drain-able bags.
Other Essential Stoma Care and Ostomy Supplies
The stoma needs to be cared for by ways of ensuring the whole area is kept very clean at all times.
If care is not taken, it is very easy to get an infection in this area and without proper care a patient may need to go back into hospital for infection related illnesses.
Other colostomy supplies for effective stoma care and colostomy management include:
Gloves are not very easy to use and many colostomy patients find it makes their fingers clumsy when fixing or changing a colostomy bag.
Gloves are probably only required for complicated colostomies that may need extra careful handling to ward against other infections.
This is particularly true when it comes to young children and babies. If for instance a young patient gets smallpox or ailments like such, carers want to ensure that they have gloves on whilst cleaning the stoma.
Special wash cloths
Clean wash cloths that come with packages of other colostomy supplies must be at hand always. Patients must desist from using paper napkins or paper towels as these may leave little tiny tissue pieces that will stick onto the stoma.
The accumulated debris will cause irritation or worse, a bad infection.
Very mild soap wash
A very mild non perfumed soap or wash is needed to clean the stoma if it’s been soiled. At times, there may be a thin light 'cake' of human waste around the stoma if it’s not cleaned regularly enough.
It’s good for patients to clean the stoma everyday, even if it’s just once in the morning.
And if it is soiled it must be cleaned gently with soap and water. Using a mild soap ensures that there are no irritants that may cause minor irritation.
Water used for cleaning the stoma must be warm as cold water may tend to cause a reaction whereby the stoma shrinks, albeit temporarily.
This may make it a bit difficult and clumsy to firmly secure the stoma in the faceplate hole.
Colostomy creams that may or may not come with the patients colostomy supplies are beneficial in the sense that they sooth the ring around the stoma if it gets irritated. There are special and recommended colostomy creams available and only these types of creams must be used for stoma care.
A small pair of stainless steel scissors
All colostomy supplies come with a pair of scissors that’s used to cut a ring in the colostomy pouch faceplate.
Because every patient will have a different stoma diameter, some colostomy faceplate products can be manually cut to size by the patient. It’s quite simple to do.
The face plates have graded diameter measurements marked on them and once a patient has ascertained his/her measurement using a chart which also comes with the supplies, they can cut out the holes to fit their stoma.
Whilst changing a pouch or emptying the contents of colostomy bags, the smell can become quite overwhelming for most patients and anyone around them.
There are special sprays and deodorizing tablets that come with colostomy supplies that will take care of this. They are quite effective and can come in many natural fragrances, with lemon being an especial favourite.
Colostomy supplies case and purses
Some colostomy supplies include a carry bag and purse that are good for storing colostomy products. There is a bigger bag that has various compartments to hold all supplies mentioned above.
Some look pretty enough to hold for all to see. They would never know they are colostomy products unless shown. There are also smaller purses with clasps or zips that fit snugly into a woman's everyday handbag, or into a man's briefcase.
Never Use Non-Stoma Care Products
For proper stoma care it is important to stick strictly to colostomy supplies, so if you are a patient, ensure you only use products recommended for colostomy care.
Never use regular creams and ordinary body lotions. Keep products such as lanolin based creams away from the stoma. All oil based creams will cause the colostomy bag to loosen from the abdomen in no time or hamper the adherence of the plates to the stomach.
Also, never clean the stoma or its surrounding area with alcohol or alcohol based products because it will dry up the skin around the stoma and badly irritate it.
Managing a Colostomy Is Not Complicated
Managing an ostomy may sound complicated but it is not.
It's amazing how many colostomy patients quickly learn and adapt to their current situation.
As long as they have mastered the art of fixing or removing their colostomy bags, know the basics of stoma care, and ensure they are well equipped with the right colostomy supplies, they will successfully manage their colostomy and live their lives without fear, embarrassment or much concern.
© 2010 AloBeDa