In the summer, the outdoors call to you. If you’re an ostomate, this is no less true. Swimming and hiking and camping sound great, yet you’re also concerned about managing your pouching system.
In general, higher levels of physical activity and sweat mean you may need to more frequently change the barrier and/or pouch. However, this simply means you need to plan ahead for an afternoon of fun or any vacation you’ve scheduled. Use the following tips and information to get started.
General Summer Ostomy Care
If you recently underwent surgery, you’re advised to check with your medical team before participating in any physically demanding activity.
Once you have the go-ahead, individuals using an ostomy system are advised to anticipate the following during the summer months:
- More frequent changes: Whether from sweat, swimming or being more physically active, you’ll likely be changing your barrier and pouch more frequently. Bring along all supplies to anticipate this shift, be it for a daytrip to the beach or a night away at the campgrounds.
- The need for a stronger hold: The risk of detachment and leaks may increase during the summer months. Ostomy barrier strips are a possible solution for a stronger, more water-resistant hold right to the edge. Also, you can gain peace of mind by double-checking that the wafer is firmly secured during changes.
Sweating and Your Ostomy System
It’s natural that your body will perspire more during this time of year. For those with an ostomy system, this extra degree of moisture can decrease wear time, increase the risk of detachment and leaks, and can potentially lead to a fungal or yeast infection.
To control sweat and keep your pouching system more secure:
- Start with your clothing: Look for lighter, breathable, and looser-fitting natural fabrics that let air circulate and won’t cause sweat to accumulate underneath. Synthetics, in the summer months, can be a gamble, even if they promise moisture wicking. These principles apply to both your outer garments as well as any undergarments. Cotton, linen, and bamboo are ideal.
- Check the barrier more frequently: Higher sweat production increases erosion of the wafer’s adhesive. Check the barrier throughout the day and during changes for this.
- Explore different wafers: Some find that for summer, an extended-wear wafer offers more security than other options.
- Drink more fluids: High temperatures and physical activity increase your risk for dehydration, which can then affect your output. You’re advised to bring along water with you, consume foods with higher water content during these months, and get in additional electrolytes.
Summer Ostomy Care in Travel
Whether you’re planning a day trip or a longer excursion, be sure to consider your ostomy system:
- Bring along additional fluids to stay hydrated.
- Pack all the ostomy supplies you’ll need and then some, ideally assembling a separate kit that you’ll keep in a cool spot.
- Avoid storing your ostomy supplies in the trunk of your car, or anywhere they could be exposed to heat.
Physical Activity and Your Ostomy System
Keep your pouch dry and secure, and monitor your output with the following tips:
- Empty your pouch before participating in any activities to avoid leaks.
- If you plan to swim or be around water, make sure you’ve secured the barrier with a water-resistant adhesive, or use an extended-wear wafer.
- Select ostomy belts, as well as swimwear designed for ostomates, can help keep your pouch secure as you move.
- Avoid keeping your ostomy system under wet clothing. Change into dry clothes right when you get out of the water to improve your comfort and preserve the pouch’s adhesion.