The colon, which is the first 4 feet or 5 feet of the large intestine, is part of the body's digestive system. It has the job of absorbing water from waste material (feces) and returning it to the body. It also absorbs any remaining nutrients. The solid waste material is then passed through the colon to the rectum. From there, it is eliminated from the body through the anus.
When the colon, rectum, or anus is unable to function normally because of disease or injury, or needs to rest from normal function, the body must have another way to eliminate the waste. A colostomy is an opening -- called a stoma -- that connects the colon to the surface of the abdomen. This provides a new path for waste material and gas to leave the body. A colostomy can be permanent or temporary.
A colonoscopy is one of the best ways to spot or help prevent colon cancer. But many people who should have the procedure don’t. Often that’s because they’re afraid of what they have to go through to get ready for it.
Your colon has to be empty and clean for your doctor to get a proper look at it. To make that happen, you’ll have to fast and use strong laxatives beforehand. It’s inconvenient and unpleasant, but it’s temporary, and it might help save your life.
Here’s how to make the process as...
While still in the hospital after your surgery, you will be educated about the care of your colostomy and given some tips for making the necessary adjustments. Living with a colostomy will require a modification of your lifestyle. But with proper education and guidance, it can be manageable. Hopefully the following tips will help you adjust. And, keep in mind there are colostomy societies and support groups available to offer assistance.
Eat a well-balanced diet. Avoid foods that cause excessive gas, such as cabbage, beans, and some nuts. A dietitian can help you choose a balanced diet that will help you avoid constipation and diarrhea and not interfere with your colostomy.
Live your life. Having a colostomy is not the end of life as you know it. Modern colostomy supplies are designed to lie flat and are not noticeable under clothing. Most colostomy patients are able to return to work and to many of the activities -- including sex -- they enjoyed before surgery.
Consider colostomy irrigation. Some people find that a process called colostomy irrigation, which uses an enema through the stoma, clears the colon for the day and a bag may not be necessary. Talk to your doctor to find out if you are a candidate.
Be sure to talk with your doctor or the nurse about resuming your normal activities and about any concerns you have about living with your colostomy.
In some cases of colostomy, skin irritation or infection can result from stool that leaks under the bag. A hernia can develop around a colostomy, and the bowel may become narrow. Taking good care of your stoma and eating a balanced diet can help you avoid these problems.