Ostomy Care


Helping improve quality of life for people with ostomies for over 50 years.

Advance Health Rx is a leading provider of ostomy supplies, making it a foundation of our company. We provide dedicated customer service, clinical and educational support, and all of the necessary supplies through our Caring Touch at Home™ program. Our primary goal is to ensure that people with ostomies resume a healthy, normal lifestyle. We’ll be here for you when you need it most.

Facts About Ostomies

Learn more about the three types of ostomies: Colostomy, Ileostomy, and Urostomy

An ostomy involves creating an opening in your abdominal wall and redirecting waste away from a damaged or disease organ. This, in turn, changes the way that urine or stool exits the body. After an ostomy, a stoma will connect to an external pouch where the urine or stool will be collected. Depending on your procedure, ostomies may be permanent or reversible.

There are three types of ostomies - colostomy, ileostomy and urostomy.

Colostomy: Your large intestine has been re-routed so that your body wastes now exit through a stoma on your abdominal wall.

Urostomy: A small segment of your small intestine has been used to re-route urine through a stoma on your abdominal wall.

Illeostomy: Your large intestine has been removed and your small intestine rerouted so that your body wastes now exit through a stoma on your abdominal wall.

All stomas are basically the same, with the exception of size and shape. Your stoma should be red or pink. It is full of blood vessels, which are right on the surface. Your stoma should always be moist, similar to the inside lining of your mouth. It is a mucus membrane that has its own natural lubrication. Your stoma may bleed as it contains many blood vessels. At times when changing the appliance, you may see some blood; do not worry. Your stoma will mend itself, very much the same as when you bite the inside lining of your cheek or mouth. Your stoma has no feeling because it doesn’t have nerve endings. The slight movement of the stoma is called peristaltic action. Your stoma will be swollen following surgery and may take from six to eight weeks to shrink. Measure your stoma at each appliance change during this initial period. The appliance must fit properly to protect the skin and to ensure a leak-proof seal.

Lifestyle Tips

Generally, the best time to change your appliance is in the morning before breakfast. Examine the peristomal skin (skin surrounding the stoma). It should be the same color and texture as the rest of the abdominal skin. Avoiding skin irritation is much better than treating it. You may take a bath or shower with your appliance on or off. Exposure to air, warm water and gentle soap is good for your skin. If you shower with your appliance on, the tape portion of the appliance will get wet. As the tape dries (you can blow dry with cool air or pat with a towel), it will remain secure on the skin.


Discharge from your colostomy can vary from a formed stool, paste-like consistency or just liquid depending on where the stoma was fashioned in the large colon; ascending, transverse, or descending. Some stomas can be controlled through irrigation; some can be managed with a closed-end pouch while others require the use of a drainable-style appliance. There are no definite diet restrictions for colostomies, however some foods will cause excessive gas such as broccoli, cabbage, eggs, fish, beans. Other foods may be constipating and still others may produce odor while emptying. Experiment with one food at a time so problem foods can be identified easily.


Using a night drainage system will ensure a good night sleep! While some prefer to get up periodically throughout the night to empty, it is more convenient to hook up to bedside drainage. The pouch remains empty and you can rest without worry. There are no specific dietary restrictions for urostomates, but certain food such as asparagus will cause the urine to have more odor. Certain juices such as grapefruit and orange go into your system in an acidic state but exit the body in an alkaline state. Too much alkalinity can cause crystals to build up around the stoma. Cranberry juice is very beneficial in keeping alkaline levels in check.


Chew all food thoroughly. Popcorn, peanuts, coconut and food with seeds or kernels should be eaten with discretion. Onions, cabbage, spicy foods, fish, garlic and beans may cause an odor when emptying the appliance. Green beans, broccoli, spinach, raw fruits and beer may cause diarrhea. Add one new food at a time so you can identify problems.

Know what medications you are taking; avoid enteric coated pills and time release capsules. These medications are usually not absorbed due to their outer coating. They may exit into the pouch in their original state. Remind your physician that you have an Ileostomy, which may necessitate a different choice of drug. You may discuss this with your pharmacist as well.

Disclaimer: The recommendations and information above should not be considered a substitute for personal medical advice or diagnosis. Before making any changes, consult your health care professional.

Ostomy Educational Support and Helpful Resources

Living a full life with an ostomy.

There will be many changes to your everyday routine after ostomy surgery, but that doesn’t mean you can’t live a full, healthy and normal life. Our specialized Clinical CareLine is a great resource for access to a WOCN Nurse (Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nurse) for clinical questions or concerns. This can provide peace of mind should you have questions post discharge or between regular visits to your physician.

Post-Surgery Diets

During a six to eight week period post-surgery, your doctor may have suggested you avoid foods that are bulky and hard-to-digest. This is done to give your body time to adjust and heal. It is suggested that you only add one food at a time after the six to eight week period so you can easily identify problematic foods. If food disagrees with you, wait a while and try again. Your body needs time to adjust to its new functions and recover from surgery.

Food Blockage

Chew your food thoroughly to help assure that you get the full nutrient value, and so that it is more easily digested in your stomach and small intestine. If a large mass of food, especially high fiber foods, is passed into your intestines, it could become lodged at a kink or narrowing in the intestine and cause a food blockage. If the lodged food does not move forward, it could cause you to become dehydrated as your small intestine pulls water from your body cells into the intestine lumen in an attempt to rid itself of the blockage.

Fluid and Electrolyte Balance

A portion of the water and salt you ingest will be lost in your fecal output because your small intestine will not reabsorb these nutrients. Your small intestine will assume some reabsorption of water and salt with time. Illeostomates are more prone to dehydration especially with vomiting, diarrhea or excessive sweating, as these conditions result in water loss. Along with the water that you lose, you also lose salt and other chemicals, or electrolytes, that keep your body in balance. If you are experiencing with staying hydrated contact your healthcare professional immediately.