How to Stay Hydrated with an Ostomy: A Step-by-Step Guide

Lady drinking water

As we celebrate International Hydration Day, it’s crucial to understand hydration’s pivotal role in our health. For ostomy patients, water isn’t just beneficial—it’s essential for maintaining proper body functions like digestion, circulation, temperature regulation, and joint lubrication.

“We often underestimate the role of water in our bodies, especially when living with an ostomy,” explains Jill, a trusted nurse with years of experience in ostomy care. 

Water absorption can be significantly impacted depending on whether the large intestine is partially or entirely removed. Typically, 20-30% of water absorption happens in the large intestine. This is why it’s not just about drinking water; it’s about understanding how your body handles it.

The Ostomy Nutrition Guide from the University of Rochester Medical Center underscores the need for adequate hydration, recommending at least 8 cups of fluid daily. However, individual needs may vary due to ostomy output, weather conditions, and physical activity.

Common Signs and Causes of Dehydration

It is key to recognise the signs of dehydration early. Symptoms can include headaches, dizziness, fatigue, and dark urine. Jill advises, “When you notice symptoms like muscle cramps or a spike in heart rate, it’s crucial to address your hydration needs immediately to avoid complications.”

Potential causes of dehydration are diverse, ranging from inadequate fluid intake to excessive loss due to vomiting, diarrhoea, or sweating. Certain medications and foods that act as diuretics can also exacerbate dehydration risks.

Best Practices for Preventing Dehydration

Consider fluid intake as part of your overall health strategy to effectively prevent dehydration. 

Here are some strategies to enhance hydration:

  • Sip fluids slowly and frequently throughout the day to improve absorption.
  • Opt for beverages that contain vital electrolytes like sodium and potassium.
  • Increase your salt intake slightly and choose salty snacks to help retain water.
  • Be mindful of your fluid intake during meals to avoid diluting digestive enzymes.

Tips for Hydration with an Ostomy

Jill emphasises the importance of electrolyte balance for those managing an ostomy: “Adding supplements like sodium, potassium, and vitamin K can make a significant difference in how you feel and function.”

Understanding and avoiding triggers that might increase ostomy output is also beneficial, such as certain foods and beverages. Avoiding high-fibre veggies, nuts, seeds, and caffeinated drinks can help maintain a more predictable output.

Common triggers to avoid include:

  • Sweets and artificial sweeteners
  • Lactose-rich foods and drinks
  • Alcohol and caffeine
  • Carbonated drinks
  • Legumes, beans, or lentils
  • High-fiber vegetables
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Whole grains and corn products, such as bran or popcorn

Staying hydrated isn’t just about drinking water; it’s about nurturing our bodies and optimising our vitality. Consider using the water intake chart in the attached file to aid in monitoring your hydration.

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