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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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
- Vomiting also brings the threat of dehydration. If it is severe and
continuing, your doctor should be notified.
- 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.
- For the urostomate - be sure to keep electrolytes in balance;
follow the general instructions for colostomies and ileostomies.
- 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.
- 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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