From Stillwater-Ponca City (OK) Ostomy Outlook Feb 1997:

The Flu... and what to do...

from the BEACON and Chautauqua Co, Jamestown, NY, via Springfield (MA) OAGS Newsnotes

The flu brings with it headaches, upset stomach, diarrhea, muscle aches and pains! Plenty of liquids and rest in bed, remains sound medical advice for your general attach of the virus. But if your case of the flu includes that "bug-a-boo" diarrhea, you may find the following hints helpful.

  1. For those with a colostomy - it is usually wise not to irrigate during this time. Your intestine is really washing itself out! After diarrhea, you have a sluggish colon for a few days, so again, leave it alone. Start irrigating again after a few days.

  2. In colostomy patients drugs or certain foods can cause constipation, prevented by drinking plenty of fluids. Increased intake in the ileostomate results in increased urine output rather than through the appliance.

  3. For the ileostomate - diarrhea is a greater hazard. Along with the excess water discharge, there is a loss of electrolytes and vitamins that are necessary in maintaining good health. This loss is usually referred to as a loss of fluid which in turn brings a state of dehydration, therefore you must restore the electrolyte balance. First, eliminate all solid food. Second, obtain potassium safely and effectively from tea, bouillon or ginger ale. Third, obtain sodium from saltines or salted pretzels. Fourth, drink a lot of water. Cranberry and orange juice also contain potassium, while bouillon and tomato juice contain sodium.

  4. Vomiting also brings the threat of dehydration. If it is severe and continuing, your doctor should be notified.

  5. You should know also that diarrhea may be symptomatic of a partial obstruction or acute gastroenteritis. Since the treatment for these two entities is entirely different, a proper diagnosis should be made as rapidly as possible if obstruction is suspected because of localized cramping. A physician should be sought immediately. So you can see why it is important to determine whether the diarrhea is caused, one, by obstruction; or two, by gastroenteritis. If you do not know, check it out with your doctor. Do not play games. Remember, always call your physician unless you are 100% certain of what you are doing.

  6. For the urostomate - be sure to keep electrolytes in balance; follow the general instructions for colostomies and ileostomies.

  7. No ostomate should take medication for pain or a laxative without a physician's order. Do not use antibiotics for cold or flu unless a doctor orders it.

  8. For all ostomates - when returning to a normal diet, use fiber-free foods at first, then gradually increase to a regular, normal diet. Prompt attention to symptoms of distress of colds and flu should bring to each of you a happier and, hopefully, healthier winter.

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Content last revised 1997-02-15