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Ulcerative Colitis Health Center

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Bowel Disease: Caring for Your Ostomy

Caring for your ostomy is an important part of maintaining your quality of life. You will need to:

  • Empty your pouch as needed.
  • Replace your pouching system as needed (usually every 3 to 7 days). This may include measuring your stoma (the exposed section of intestine) and cutting the barrier to size.
  • Care for your skin and stoma and watch for skin irritation.

You may also irrigate a colostomy, which helps you control when you eliminate waste. Irrigation requires your doctor's approval and guidance.

Wound, ostomy, and continence nurses (WOCNs) are available in some medical centers to help you learn how to care for your ostomy.

This topic covers care for a colostomy or ileostomy only. It does not cover care for a urostomy.

what.gif What is an ostomy?
why.gif Why do I need to care for my ostomy?
how.gif How do I care for my ostomy?
where.gif Where to go from here

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Other Works Consulted

  • Deitz D, Gates J (2010). Basic ostomy management, part 1. Nursing, 40(2): 61–62.

  • Deitz D, Gates J (2010). Basic ostomy management, part 2. Nursing, 40(5): 62–63.

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerArvydas D. Vanagunas, MD - Gastroenterology
Last RevisedOctober 8, 2012

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: October 08, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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