How Can I Get Ostomy Help?

Madeleine A.

Ostomy help is available through ostomy support groups and the patient's primary physician. In addition, a qualified ostomy nurse can help the patient living with an ostomy clean and care for it. There are different types of ostomy appliances, depending upon why the ostomy was initiated in the first place. A surgeon may perform an ostomy on a patient who suffers from a colon or urinary disorder, to divert the flow of feces, urine, or bile into a collection bag.

A patient's primary care physician may be able to offer ostomy assistance.
A patient's primary care physician may be able to offer ostomy assistance.

Typically, when a patient first receives his ostomy while in the hospital, ostomy help and support will begin within the first 24 hours of the procedure. An ostomy nurse or other health care professional will demonstrate how to clean, empty, and care for the ostomy before the patient goes home. In addition, the hospital may also refer the patient to outside sources such as social service organizations and outpatient clinics to receive ostomy help.

Support groups may offer ostomy help.
Support groups may offer ostomy help.

Sometimes, in addition to medically maintaining an ostomy, the patient may need ostomy help in the form of psychological or social help. After an ostomy procedure has been performed, the patient might feel self-conscious because he may fear the ostomy might produce an unpleasant odor that others could smell. In addition, the patient might have concerns that the ostomy may be visible through his clothing.

Since an ostomy is a surgically-fashioned opening for the evacuation of waste such as feces, urine, or bile, meticulous care must be taken to avoid infection and odors. Since support groups often offer ostomy help in the form of medically trained speakers, they are an important resource for anyone living with an ostomy. Caring for the ostomy may initially present a challenge, however, after seeking ostomy help from a nurse or support group, the patient may feel more confident in caring for his own ostomy.

In addition to learning how to care for an ostomy, the patient will need to learn how to recognize signs and symptoms of ostomy site infection. When symptoms such as redness, pain, and swelling appear at the ostomy site, the person living with an ostomy will need to call his physician or ostomy nurse. If an infection is diagnosed, antibiotics may be prescribed to prevent complications of the infection, such as local tissue damage.

When the person living with an ostomy is able to seek support, he may feel less isolated and anxious when caring for his own ostomy. In addition, he is more likely to have a brighter outlook concerning his condition, and might even be a valuable ostomy support person for new patients. It is important for anyone offering ostomy help and support to emphasize to the patient that having an ostomy doesn't have to limit his activities of daily living, or quality of life.

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