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Staying hydrated with an ostomy

Caitlin McGinnis shares her tips on staying hydrated with an ostomy.

Staying hydrated with an ostomy

When I was told my Ulcerative Colitis was “cured” I didn’t expect to have other health issues. I knew the risks with an ostomy but didn’t know the effect it would have on my everyday life. Overall I am healthy, however, it can be a struggle everyday to feel good. I no longer eat three meals a day. I eat maybe five or snack continuously throughout the day. I have to eat right when I wake up or I feel ill. About an hour or so later, I am hungry again so I’ll eat some peanut butter crackers or protein bars. I’ll continue to snack until lunchtime. Then I’ll snack a few more times before dinner around 6pm. I try to not eat after 7pm because I don’t want to have to get up a bunch of times in the night to empty my pouch. I constantly feel hungry as much as I snack. If I wait too long to eat, then I feel nauseous and have a bad headache. Once I am at this point, I can barely feed myself. A nap usually does the trick and I feel well enough to eat when I wake up. Hydration is one of the toughest parts with taking care of my body. I can’t seem to get it right. I was never much of a drinker even before I had my surgeries. However, now it’s more important than ever. I’m pretty sure my baseline is being dehydrated somewhat. When I start getting really dehydrated, I know pretty quickly. Sometimes, I’ll start feeling dizzy, like I’m going to pass out. I’ll get really weak and hot. My blood pressure usually falls pretty low at this time too. I usually feel better with some Pedialyte or a Gatorade.


This past weekend, I felt pretty bad. I was having really bad diarrhea starting Friday night. I thought it was because I hadn’t taken my usual Imodium. I take about four Imodium pills daily every morning to help slow and thicken output. I work in a hospital walking around all day and don’t want to constantly be in the bathroom. Well I ran out Thursday and didn’t take any on Friday. I contributed my diarrhea to this. Saturday, I went on the annual Crohn’s and Colitis walk in my local area. After the walk, I realized how full my pouch was of liquid and how bad my joints felt. I felt pretty tired from the walk so I went home and took a nap. I had constant diarrhea for the rest of the day regardless of what I ate. I probably still wasn’t drinking enough. I’m so bad at keeping myself hydrated. Saturday evening was probably the worst. My pouch was filling up 4-5 times every hour. I would empty it, lay down for a few minutes, and then it would be full again. I barely got any sleep because I was constantly in the bathroom. Sunday rolls around and I have plans to go to brunch and a goat farm tour with some friends. I’m still having diarrhea in the morning and throughout brunch. I had a delicious meal but still felt uneasy. At the goat farm tour, I used the bathroom a few times as well. I felt extremely weak and had joint pain (felt like the growing pains when we’re younger). I kept debating whether to go to ER for IV liquids or just wait it out until Monday. I’m the type to wait until I’m on my deathbed to go to the ER. I finally decided to go to the walk-in clinic instead. Well, they didn’t tell me anything I didn’t know already. I was dehydrated but not enough to need IV fluids, which was a good thing. They took a blood test to see if I had a virus and told me to go home and drink more fluids with electrolytes. I went and bought some Pedialyte and started feeling a little better. Monday at work, I felt pretty nauseous in the morning and left an hour early. I drank more Pedialyte throughout the day to help.

This could all possibly be from some type of virus or stomach bug going around or just simply being dehydrated. My parents advise me often to keep drinking because when I’m dehydrated, I feel awful. Being dehydrated can also damage your kidneys and other organs. Hydration is definitely my weakness. I don’t like drinking a lot because then I’m peeing all day and I hate that. But I do NEED to be better at it because it could hurt me in the long term. I usually drink Pedialyte in the apple flavor because it doesn’t have all the sugar that Gatorade does. Water can actually make you sick and dehydrated so drink anything with electrolytes (Gatorade, Vitamin Water, Pedialyte, etc). I found an easy at-home recipe for an oral rehydration solution. Drink up!

Mix 1 liter (4 cups) of water

2/3 tsp of table salt

2 tbsp of sugar

Sugar-free Kool-Aid or Crystal Light (to taste)

Sip between meals

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