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Breakthrough Crohn’s Disease Guide » Coping with an Ileostomy due to Crohns Disease

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Coping with an Ileostomy due to Crohns Disease

Crohn’s sufferers that have constipation due to a stricture, have a severe case of Crohn’s that may one day lead to more complications that could result in an ileostomy.  An ileostomy (pronounced il-ee-os-tuh-mee) is an operation that involves bringing the end of the small intestine (the ileum) through an opening surgically created in the abdomen known as a stoma. 

An ileostomy is a procedure given to those who require their colon (large intestine) and rectum to be removed, because the disease and injury that has infected the large intestine has rendered it incapable of safely processing waste.

Since the small intestine is no longer attached to the colon to pass waste on, the stoma created connects the ileum to the outside surface skin of the abdomen.  A special bag known as an appliance is securely attached to the opening and collects waste from the small intestine.  Most ilesostomies are located on the right side of the abdomen just above the groin.

Living with an ileostomy

An ileostomy is an operation that usually improves symptoms of Crohn’s disease.  However, living with an ileostomy can be a struggle at first.  The following are some tips on how you can cope and make the most of your new lifestyle.

The Pouch – All pouches, regardless if they are open or closed ended, are designed of lightweight plastic and are attached by an adhesive wafer to the skin.  The wafer should fit snuggly to avoid leakage.

Due to the way modern ileostomy pouches are designed, they usually remain inconspicuous under regular clothing.  This is because pouches lie flat to the body.  Pouches can be worn inside or outside of underwear, so you can wear it in the way that is most comfortable for you.  Just make sure that you don’t apply pressure to the stoma by wearing tight clothing or belts over it.

Activities – As soon as you have your doctor’s permission and are feeling up to it, you can engage in all of the activities and sports you enjoyed prior to surgery.  This includes swimming, jogging, skiing, tennis, etc.   However, you will want to avoid rough contact sports (IE football) and heavy lifting.

Work – to give yourself peace of mind when you return to work, make sure you keep an extra pouch and a change of clothing on you at all times.

New Diet – Even though you can eat virtually any food after you have your ileostomy, it’s a good idea to continue avoiding foods that had a serious impact on your Crohn’s condition and maintain a healthy diet.  Furthermore, you should lower your intact of tough and high-fiber foods such as raw vegetables.   These types of food are hard for your small intestine to digest and this could lead to blockage.

Emotional Repercussions - At first, living with an ileosotomy can be hard to deal with.  Many people feel embarrassed about their ileostomy and are afraid to start new relationships, or open up emotionally to others.  The best way to make these feelings of shame and insecurity pass is to share your feelings and educate others about your condition.  You’d be surprised at how understanding people are who love and care about you.  

If you have a hard time talking to your family, friends, spouse, or partner, at first, consider joining a support group and talk with other people who live with ostomoies.

Keep in mind, an ileostomy does not stop a person from engaging in sexual activity, sports, traveling, or most activities.  The only thing holding a person back from doing the things they enjoy are their thoughts and attitude.

There are many more resources and lots of information about controlling, treating and living with Crohn’s Disease symptoms to be found in the Breakthrough Crohn’s Disease Guide.

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