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Colostomy: Answers to Common Questions

You have been told you need a colostomy. Or you have recently been given one. Below are answers to some questions you are likely to have. Learning as much as you can about your colostomy can help you adjust.

Can I take my regular medicines when I have a colostomy?

A colostomy could affect the way medicines act in the body. Talk with your healthcare provider about any medicines you take.

Where do I buy pouches and skin care products?

You can buy supplies through medical supply companies, some pharmacies, online, and in special catalogs. Be sure you know the maker and product number of the supplies you use. And order new supplies well before you run out.

How can I know if a product will irritate my skin?

If you have had a skin reaction before, you may want to do a patch test. Put a small amount (or a small piece of product) on your belly, away from the stoma. Remove it after 48 hours. If the skin isn’t red or sore, the product is OK to use. Know that you can develop an allergy to a product over time. If you start having a reaction to a product, stop using it. Then, call your wound, ostomy, and continence (WOC) nurse for advice.

Why do I still sometimes feel as if I’m going to have a bowel movement through the rectum?

This is called phantom rectum. The feeling is common. It may happen because nerves that were cut during surgery still send messages to the brain. The feeling may go away when you’ve healed from the surgery. If you still have your rectum, you may pass mucus from it sometimes. Some people find the feeling goes away if they sit on the toilet as if they were going to move their bowels.

Where can I get more information?

Your WOC nurse is there to answer your questions. So are your surgeon and other healthcare providers. Contacting the sources listed below is a good way to learn more:

  • United Ostomy Associations of America 800-826-0826 www.uoaa.org

  • American Cancer Society 800-227-2345 www.cancer.org

  • Wound, Ostomy, and Continence Nurses Society www.wocn.org/Patients

© 2000-2018 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.