What is an Ostomy?
Ostomy is the term used to describe a surgically created opening in the body that results in a stoma, a small protrusion from the body at the site of the opening.
Ostomies are created to change the flow of bodily waste. This change can be temporary or permanent, depending on the patient’s disease and/or their particular condition.
Ostomies involve either the large or small intestine or the bladder. When impacting the large intestine, the term colostomy applies. Those affecting the small intestine are generally ileostomy procedures, and the procedures that divert urine away from the bladder are urostomy procedures.
Living with an Ostomy
People feel anxious, nervous, or scared when they first begin dealing with an ostomy. They find it unpleasant and sometimes feel they’ve lost control of their body. Such feelings do improve with time. Talking about them with your doctor, or someone close to you, will help you get past them.
Learning to live with an ostomy may be difficult for both you and your spouse. Don’t try to ignore the problem. Be frank with each other, and try to share your feelings. Together you can find ways to cope with this change in your life.
If you had a happy sex life before ostomy surgery, it can be the same afterward. Close body contact can’t hurt your stoma; but do be sure to empty the pouch before having sex. You may also want to wear a pouch cover.
After an ileostomy, the intestine has difficulty digesting high fiber foods such as corn, celery, apples, nuts, popcorn, or grapes. Do not eat large amounts of these foods for several weeks after surgery. Ask your doctor to tell you when you can begin eating foods with hulls, peels, or seeds. Eat small amounts at first to see how your intestine digests the fiber.
Because bowel movements leave the body sooner through an ileostomy, your intestine will not have a chance to absorb certain “long acting” or “sustained release” medications or drugs in hard-capsule form. Tell your doctor and your pharmacist that you have an ileostomy. They can order the kind of medicine that your intestine will handle best.
You should not use laxatives while you have an ileostomy because your bowel movements will already be soft and semi-liquid. Tell your doctors that you have an ileostomy so that they won’t give you laxatives before a test or surgery.
It is important to drink enough to replace the liquid lost in your bowel movements. Drink 6 to 8 large glasses of water, juices, or other liquids each day. Or, if you are on a fluid limit, follow your doctor’s advice.
Constipation can be a problem if you have a colostomy. Drinking plenty of liquid will help. Also try to include a lot of high-fiber foods in your diet, including cereals, beans, vegetables, and whole-grain breads.
Try to maintain a healthy diet that includes all five food groups: fruits, vegetables, breads, dairy products, and meat and fish. Remember, however, that if you eat certain foods, such as eggs, cabbage, onions, beer, and some cheeses, you may have unpleasant gas. Do not eat too much or eat too fast. Chew your food very well.
Pregnancy? Yes! Be sure to talk to your doctor before you get pregnant. It may be advisable to wait a year or so after surgery so your body has a chance to heal and return to normal.
Talk to your doctor about an exercise program once you feel better. Exercise makes the heart stronger, lowers blood pressure, improves your mood, and helps keep you healthy. Among the best activities are walking, jogging, bicycling, and swimming. Start slowly and do more as you get stronger. Don’t play contact sports unless your doctor says it’s OK. If you swim, empty your pouch before getting into the water. You may want to put waterproof tape over the edges of the device that secures the pouch.
Always carry extra ostomy supplies and pouches with you when traveling. Luggage is sometimes lost, so keep some of your supplies in a carry-on bag. Take enough for the entire trip. You may not be able to find what you need while traveling. Your local ostomy group may be able to give you a list of ostomy doctors in the area you’re visiting.
What is Crohn's
CROHN’S is one of the inflammatory bowel diseases (the others include ulcerative colitis and irritable bowel syndrome). It is a chronic disease for which there is currently no cure.
Crohn’s usually occurs in the small intestine, but is not limited to that area. It can occur anywhere in the digestive tract. It is not contagious, but it is estimated that well over 500,000 people have the condition.
With Crohn’s Disease, teen or child or adult, it doesn’t matter, they all go through many highs and lows depending on whether they are having a flare up or are in remission. The flare-ups, too, can have different severities. From minor to a full blown flare-up.
Crohn’s Disease symptoms include stomach pain (usually in the lower right area), diarrhea and weight loss, fever, rectal bleeding, fatigue and anemia, arthritis, and skin problems. The number of symptoms and the intensity of the symptoms varies from patient to patient.
No one knows the cause of Crohn’s Disease. It does seem to have a genetic link. Many times, a person with Crohn’s has relatives who have the disease. There are also current theories that describe it as a reaction of the immune system to a virus or bacteria in the intestines.
Also, what the patient eats doesn’t cause Crohn’s Disease, but like stress, it can affect how the patient feels. If you’ve been newly diagnosed, keep a journal to see if you can figure out what foods cause you the most problems.
It is also important to note that Crohn’s Disease is not caused by stress. But stress does affect the symptoms of the disease and the disease, in turn, causes the patient a lot of anxiety. Learning ways to reduce stress will help a person deal with this disease.
What is IBD?
IBD is a group of disorders that cause the digestive tract to be inflamed. Inflammatory Bowel Disease is broken down into 2 main categories as follows:
Ulcerative colitis is characterized by recurring episodes of inflammation of the mucosal layer of the large bowel not related to an intestinal infection. The inflammation involves the rectum and may extend proximally in a continuous fashion.
Crohn’s disease is characterized by recurring episodes of suppurative inflammation of any part of the bowel, from the mouth to the anus. This inflammation is transmural, and can result in strictures, microperforations, and fistulae. The inflammation is noncontiguous and thus can produce skip lesions throughout the bowel.
It is estimated that seven people out of 100,000 in the United States develop Crohn’s disease, and 10 to 15 people in 100,000 develop ulcerative colitis. The exact cause of these diseases is still unknown, but the latest research suggests that they may be caused by a malfunction in the body’s immune system. Both Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis appear to run in families, and certain environmental factors may also increase an individual’s risk for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
In the early stages of both Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, medication is often needed. The goal of medical treatment is to suppress the abnormal inflammatory response and allow the intestinal tissues to heal. Once diarrhea and abdominal pain are under control, medical treatment can reduce the frequency of flare-ups and maintain remission.
Currently, there is no cure for IBD. In more advanced disease, surgery is often necessary. The type of operation performed is specific to each disease.
For more indepth information please visit the Cleveland Clinic Website. The Cleveland Clinic is an outstanding source of information.
What are the complications?
* Inflammation - The condition can cause the intestines and other areas of the digestive tract to become inflamed. Prescription medications of varying strengths is often prescribed
* Obstructions - The small intestines can become so inflamed that obstructions occur. That is dangerous because it could cause the intestines to rupture and that can kill you. So, many times surgery is required to remove the obstruction by taking out part of the small intestine (this is what happened to me back in 1985). This surgery does not eliminate the disease. It is not uncommon for people with Crohn’s Disease to have more than one operation.
* Abdominal Pain - Even without an obstruction, patients experience pain usually in the lower right side.
* Diarrhea - One of the main symptoms of Crohn’s Disease. It causes a loss of nutrients.
* Ulcers form in parts of the intestines and some of these ulcers can form a tunnel that joins one part of the intestines to another part and can even joins the intestines to an organ or the skin.
* Fistulas - A tunnel like formation that joins two loops of the intestines and/or a loop of the intestine and an organ of the body.
* Abscesses - Pus filled pockets filled with bacteria
* Anemia - May be due to loss of blood due to bleeding in the intestines and/or rectum. Also, lack of absorption of nutrients in digestion due to inflammation of the small intestines where absorption occurs
* Colon Cancer - People with Crohn’s Disease have a greater chance of getting Colon Cancer.
* Weight Loss - due to lack of appetite. This is not uncommon for people with active Crohn’s .
* Arthritis - It’s not uncommon for someone with Crohn’s Disease to develop Arthritis.
Is there a CURE?
Science has not yet found a Crohn’s cure, although new medical research is bringing doctors closer to conquering this disease once and for all.
For the estimated 500,000 Americans with Crohn’s Disease, and countless more worldwide, relief is provided by way of medications that can treat inflammation as well as address any more serious complications that may develop such as fissures and fistulas, among others.
Depending on the severity of the disease, drugs such as aminosalicylates, corticosteroids, immune modifiers and antibiotics are available for treating patients.
The majority of Crohn’s Disease patients require surgery at one point or another, either to repair, remove blockage, or when medications are not able to keep symptoms in check.
Although these procedures do not result in a Crohn’s cure, they can provide some temporary relief before the next complication arises.
It might be years before science is able to discover a Crohn’s Disease cure, but until then it is important for patients to do whatever they can to keep the illness under control.
Be sure to check with your physician or other qualified medical professional to gauge the severity of the illness and develop proper protocol to deal with the disease. Only try natural cures for Crohn’s such as fish oil if your doctor believes it may be an effective alternative.
Until a Crohn’s cure is found, make sure you eat a healthy balanced diet…supplementation may be necessary to ensure proper nutrition. Also, try to exercise and minimize stress and negative influences.
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