Living with a stoma

June 13, 2024 Stoma Care

Living with a stoma

Whether you have recently undergone surgery or have been living with a stoma for some time, life with one can be daunting. However, with the right support and information, people living with a stoma will lead a fulfilling life.

A stoma pouch is secure and discreet. This means that although there may be some adjustments to some activities, you should be able to participate in most of the activities you enjoyed before. Your stoma nurse will be able to give more support and advice to help you adapt.

Understanding a stoma

A stoma is a small opening in the abdomen that has been surgically created. It is used to remove body waste into a bag. Each stoma is unique and different surgeries will result in different appearances. Despite that, stomas are usually round or oval shaped, will look pink or red and moist. It does not have any nerve supply, so it does not hurt.

The different kinds of stomas

Colostomy: It is a surgically created opening into the large intestine through the abdomen, usually on the left side.

Ileostomy: This stoma is an opening into the small intestine through the abdomen, usually on the right side.

Urostomy: This is an opening to drain urine which flows out the bladder.

Stoma supply

There are different kinds of stoma bags. It is important to choose the one that suits you best as you need to be as comfortable as possible when wearing the bag. Your stoma care nurse will help you decide which one is right for you.

If you have just had your surgery, you will be given some stoma bags and a prescription for more. Following that, if it is permanent, your GP will issue a repeat prescription for supplies.

Managing your stoma

To avoid complications, proper care of your stoma is crucial. Understanding your specific type of stoma, whether colostomy, ileostomy or urostomy, is also important as the care required for each varies slightly. Regardless, regular cleaning with water and mild soap, timely bag changes and meticulous skin care are fundamental to preventing infection or irritation.

To protect against damage, you should use barrier creams and the skin around the stoma should remain dry. It is also important to recognise early signs of complications such as swelling, unusual discharge and redness as this will prompt early intervention and prevent serious issues.

Eating and drinking

Immediately after surgery, you may have a restricted diet and have smaller meals more often. You will then gradually build up what you are eating and the amount usually taking 6 to 8 weeks for your bowel to settle down. This is to help regain predictable bowel movements. Once you are able to normalise your bowel, you will have to aim to have a balanced diet that are rich in lean proteins, fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Hydration is key, thus, ensure that you are drinking plenty of fluids.

Your diet can also differ for the different stoma types. With a colostomy, you will have fewer dietary restrictions. For those with an ileostomy, you should eat more potassium-rich and salt foods. If you have a urostomy, drinking plenty of fluids is essential to prevent infections.

Why choose us

All our private care nurses provide 24 hour, 12-hour or visiting stoma homecare. Our priority is to ensure you or your loved feels safe and we know that finding the right nurse is part of that process. This is why each nurse is selected based on your individual needs, and we aim to keep consistency throughout.  This ensures familiarity with you and your family allowing for a seamless homecare service.

If you would like to discuss your private nursing, post-operative care or stoma homecare needs, please do not hesitate to contact, call 020 3008 5210 or email us at

About the Author…

Zahrah Abdullah

Operations Assistant

During her time as a Youth Worker at Challengers, a charity dedicated to supporting children and young people with disabilities, Zahrah demonstrated excellence in assisting in the delivery of inclusive play activities. She gained knowledge in Makaton, and underwent training in Crisis Prevention/Intervention, specifically focusing on managing challenging verbal and physical behaviours.

Currently holding a key role within Cavendish Homecare’s operations team, Zahrah takes charge of ensuring the seamless set up of new cases, managing the distribution of personal protective equipment (PPE) to clients and the nursing and carer teams, organising staff training and providing crucial support to Nurse Managers.

Person smiling for the camera