My experience with dehydration

Clare Mee
Clare Mee
One things for sure, as an ostomate who thought I was an old hand at this stoma stuff, I have come back down to earth with a bump…we need to listen to our bodies more and not ignore signs that something isn’t quite right

I know that having an ileostomy means that I don’t absorb as much water as I used to, as the large bowel did most of that. I have never been a great water and fluid drinker so knew that I would have to change my ways.

My husband regularly said that I wasn’t drinking enough even before my admission to hospital for fluids, but I was sure I was ok. I had my stoma for two years so far with no hydration issues but totally didn’t realise the impact of the very hot weather we have been having that has lasted a long while for the British climate.

I was probably plodding along on the brink of dehydration for a long while, so when I started having an issue with my stoma with nausea and reduced output, it spiraled quite quickly downhill. My blood pressure was very low which is another indication of dehydration.

My GP sent me to our surgical triage ward and I had an x ray, they decided I could have a partial blockage but the x ray wasn’t conclusive, I definitely had dehydration and bad enough to be admitted overnight for fluids.

I got the “ I told you that you weren’t drinking enough” from the husband and I spent the night on a drip.

It took a while but I could feel myself getting better, the fatigue was easing, the sickness wasn’t quite as bad and I felt more alert. I don’t deny that I needed it, but the issue with the stoma was still there, I just was able to cope with it better.

I have a fistula at the base of my stoma and I thought my issues could be do with that, so I have sent a message through to my stoma nurse, I have a dull ache underneath the stoma and the stoma itself isn’t moving as it should so it needs looking at .

What is the right amount to drink? That was my question, also what should I be drinking?

I heard conflicting views on the subject which was 1.5 litres to 2 litres a day, or much much higher for ostomates. Hydration sachets? ( hate the taste), sports drinks, water and plenty of it. Surely sports drinks are full of sugar? I also heard you can drink too much water, or ordinary water isn’t enough for us?

It is a mine field (same as what foods to have) I just try and drink water, squash, decaffeinated tea, milk and the odd treat of ribena.

I think it is safe to say that any fluids containing water is a safe bet.

Signs that something isn’t right are headaches, dry mouth, fatigue, dry tenting skin, decreased urine output, possible decreased stoma output / or if you have been unwell you may get very watery output that will increase the likelihood of problems, tummy cramps, rapid heart rate and confusion. These can be very mild and you may brush them off as something else, but these symptoms can upset you’re electrolyte balance so that you become low in potassium and sodium too.

But one things for sure, as an ostomate who thought I was an old hand at this stoma stuff, I have come back down to earth with a bump. We must take care of ourselves, yes we like to think we are better since surgery, and we are on the whole, but we need to listen to our bodies more and not ignore signs that something isn’t quite right, things can deteriorate very quickly.

You can also follow Clare on her blog.

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