If you or a loved one is curious as to what living with a colostomy bag is like, you’re in luck. In this article, we take a deep dive into everything you need to know. Everything from what a colostomy bag actually is to how it actually affects your life. First of all, it’s important to know what this particular product actually is. First of all, an ostomy is an opening in your body. This ostomy is basically what allows waste to leave your body when the typical routes aren’t working/aren’t working correctly. Typically this means either your bowels or your bladder can’t evacuate themselves without assistance. Where the colostomy bag comes is the storage phase. Waste leaves your body through the ostomy and enters the colostomy bag. This is where it will stay until you remove it. Generally, this can be a permanent thing, but it’s most commonly temporary. What’s a colostomy you may ask? A colostomy is basically the removal or partial removal of your colon and large intestine. This means your particular ostomy provides a short cut out of the body before the aforementioned parts.
What are the different types of colostomy bags?
The two major types of colostomy bags are sealed bags and drainable bags. Sealed bags are typically good for waste that comes out firm instead of liquid-like. If your waste is liquid-like, you may be better off with a drainable colostomy bag. The two different types come with different accessories. The first being odor control! There’s nothing worse than having to deal with a foul smell all the time. There are dozens of different odor control products out there, and all of them are known to work well. You can also get accessories that take control of any irritated skin, accessories that hide the pouch, and so much more.
What’s it like to travel with a colostomy bag?
Traveling with a colostomy bag is definitely a manageable event, but it isn’t necessarily the most stress-free. First off, you’re always going to need to keep track of what’s touching it. For example, if you’re on an airplane or in a cab, you need to make sure the seat belt doesn’t shift it out of place. Other examples include gear like life jackets if you’re on a boat, winter clothes if you’re going somewhere cold, or the appropriate gear for a warmer climate. Another thing you will definitely have to prepare for is airport security. We recommend that you contact the TSA or in other words the Transportation Security Administration for more information. The TSA is generally responsible for helping people with various ailments and disabilities.
If you want to return to work with a colostomy bag, we recommend you take it slowly. We recommend that you slowly build up to your previous amount of hours. After all, if you take it too quickly you risk making your injury/ailment worse. Coordinate with your employer. Your condition should be managed appropriately. We also don’t recommend you go back to a job where you have to physically exert yourself an excessive amount. For example, if you are continually lifting heavy objects in a warehouse, we recommend you find a new job. Strenuous activity puts your colostomy bag (and your health) at risk.
What’s odor management like?
The best way to eliminate odor is to completely cut out odor inducing foods. This means foods like beans, excessive amounts of red meat, and other odor inducing foods. Combine this with one of the many odor management options out there and you should be good to go. Most of these odor eliminating products can be both taken orally or placed directly into the ostomy pouch. If you want an odor eliminator for your home, you can actually get one for each room.
What’s it like to have gas? How to get rid of it?
Being gassy can actually put your health at significant risk. If you are extremely gassy you may even burst the colostomy bag. The best way to avoid this is to avoid gas inducing foods. Gas inducing foods include onions, bananas, beans, cabbage, dairy products, fish, and especially carbonated drinks. Popular sodas can do quite a large deal of damage, so we definitely recommend you just cut them out altogether. Often gas and constipation go hand in hand, so you should definitely combine the food cutouts with excessive amounts of water. Drinking lots of fluids ensures you won’t be constipated, and it’ll be easier to keep track of your bowel movements.
What is intimacy and sex like with a colostomy bag?
Although sexual activity is possible, we do not recommend you undergo anything overly strenuous. This means avoiding positions that put severe pressure on your colostomy bag. These positions may cause it to burst, and would really ruin the overall mood. Not to mention putting your health at risk. Do be aware, the use of a colostomy bag may induce erectile dysfunction. We recommend trying Viagra or another ED medication.
If you find that your self-esteem is falling because of the colostomy bag, you can actually get harnesses that are intent upon making it less visible. This generally makes your partner feel more comfortable as well. We definitely do not recommend you continually have strenuous sexual activity. You’re definitely going to want to take large and beneficial breaks.
Can you go swimming with a colostomy bag?
Yes, it is possible to go swimming with a colostomy bag. The seal that holds your colostomy bag is waterproof. Not water-resistant, fully waterproof. A lot of people worry that the bag will come off in the water and make a mess of things. Fortunately, that’s not a common occurrence, and will only happen if it actually gets stuck on something. We don’t recommend you do any hardcore diving, for the built-up pressure in your body will likely burst the bag and cause injury. We also don’t recommend that you do any jumps or jump drives. The impact of you hitting the water may actually rip the colostomy bag from your body. The same goes for other sports. You do not want to do anything that rips the bag from your body, nor do you want to do anything that changes your bodily pressure (which will in turn damage the bag).
What is it like to be pregnant with a colostomy bag?
Generally women with colostomy bags that are pregnant work with medical professionals to make sure no medical complications arise. Overall people who are pregnant need to be very careful when it comes to what they do, and when they have a colostomy bag, they need to turn that level of care up to 11. Generally, the concerns here arise when considering the expansion of the abdomen. This may mean that your stoma needs to be adjusted, or the bag itself needs to be switched with one of an appropriate connector. For more information, we definitely recommend you talk to your doctor.
For more information…
For more information on living with a colostomy bag, we recommend you visit your family doctor or your general practitioner. They will most likely work with you to manage your future use of the colostomy bag, or refer you to a specialist that will instead. Do keep in mind that this article is not legal nor professional medical advice. Medical advice is only just that when it comes to a doctor that knows about your exact circumstances. Everything is different for everyone, which is exactly why your family doctor or general practitioner is so important. We hope this article helped you figure out what living with a colostomy bag is like. It may be tough at first, but most things are manageable. Everything from swimming to sexual activity can still be done. If you’re struggling at all feel free to ask your doctor about support groups in your area.
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