From North Central Oklahoma Ostomy Outlook June 2007:

What’s Normal… Answers from Your Stoma to You

by Liz O’Connor, RN,CETN, Metro Maryland; via Fairfield (CA) Solano Ostomy News

What is normal for my stoma? This is a frequently asked question. Here are some answers from your stoma to you.

My color should be a healthy red. I am the same color as the inside of your intestine. If my color darkens, the blood supply might be pinched off. First make sure your skin barrier/wafer is not too tight (this can vary according to the barrier type, as some require a small gap between your stoma and the barrier material, while others are intended for a snug fit where the wafer material actually touches your stoma). If I should turn black (very unlikely – but it happens occasionally), seek treatment AT ONCE. Go to an Emergency Room if you cannot readily locate your doctor. (Be sure to TAKE AN EXTRA POUCH ALONG so you can remove the pouch for doctors to examine the stoma.)

I might bleed a little when cleaned. This is to be expected. Do not be alarmed. Just be gentle please, when you handle me.

If I am an ileostomy, I will run intermittently and stool will be semi-solid. If you should notice that I am not functioning after several hours and if you develop pain, I might be slightly clogged. Try sipping warm tea and try getting in a knee-chest position on the bed or on the floor. (Have your shoulders on the floor and your hips in the air. Rock back and forth in an attempt to dislodge any food that might be caught.) If I do not begin to function after about an hour of this, call your physician. If you cannot locate him/her readily, go to an emergency room. In the meantime, I might have begun to swell. Remove any pouch with a tight wafer and replace it with a flexible one with slightly larger stoma opening.

If I am a colostomy located in the descending or sigmoid colon, I should function according to what your bowel habits were before surgery (daily, twice daily, three times weekly, etc.). I can be controlled in most cases with diet and/or irrigation. This is a personal choice. There is no right or wrong to it, as long as I am working well. My stool will be fairly solid.

If I am a colostomy in the transverse colon, I will have a more loose stool than a descending or sigmoid colostomy. Because there is less remaining colon in this case to absorb water and solidify the stool, its consistency will be closer to that of an ileostomy.

If I am a urinary diversion, I should work almost constantly. My urine should be yellow, adequate in volume and will contain some mucus. If my urine becomes too concentrated or dark, try increasing your fluid intake. If my mucus becomes more excessive than usual, I might have an infection. I will probably also have an odor and you may have a fever. Consult your physician if this happens.

If at any time, you doubt that your stoma is functioning normally, please seek help. The cause needs to be evaluated. If your problem is a serious one, it needs to be corrected. If it isn’t serious, you will be relieved to know that your stoma is alive and well.


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This page last revised 2007-06-07

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