Got a stoma and unsure if your output is normal? We’ve got you.
In general, your stoma output will depend mainly on which type of stoma you have – colostomy, ileostomy or urostomy. Output is affected by diet, liquid intake etc., like all output.
Regardless of the type of stoma you have, it is important to drink plenty of fluids, about 6 cups of liquid a day (8-10 if you have an ileostomy). This will help keep your digestive and urinary systems happy and healthy. 
Normal output for a colostomy
The colon usually absorbs water from the waste as it moves along towards the rectum, so the consistency of output will depend on where your stoma is sited: the further along the colon, the thicker the faeces coming out of the stoma will generally be. 
The waste passed out from a colostomy is usually fairly firm, so a non-drainable ostomy bag (also known as stoma bag) is commonly used. With a colostomy, it is recommended for you to change your ostomy bag every 3-5 days. 
However, something to note is that some colostomates wear a drainable ostomy bag that can be fastened shut at the bottom if the waste is looser (and therefore in greater quantities). This type of ostomy bag can be unfastened and emptied as often as necessary. 
An important thing to note is that if you have just had surgery, it may take a few days for the bowel to start functioning normally again. Passing wind is the first sign that it is starting to work again. Faeces can be quite loose in the post-operative period, but should become thicker as your bowel recovers.
It’s extremely crucial for you to get into the habit of drinking plenty of fluids and gradually introducing fruit, vegetables and other high fibre foods into your diet, as you can still get constipation with a colostomy. If constipation persists, it may be helpful to take a mild laxative, but it is advisable to consult your stoma nurse or doctor before taking matters into your own hands. You should also seek medical advice if you experience no output coupled with severe pain, as this may be a sign of blockage.
Normal output for an ileostomy
After bowel surgery, your output may be very loose. Over time, the small bowel gradually adapts and absorbs more water so your stoma output should thicken up (to a porridge-like consistency) and reduce to around 400-800ml per 24 hours.
Ileostomates usually wear drainable ostomy bags, which are fastened shut at the bottom and can be unfastened and emptied as often as necessary during the day.  With an ileostomy, it is recommended for you to change your ostomy bag every 5-8 days. 
Make sure you eat regularly as this helps to regulate stoma function. Occasionally, some people have continuing problems with stool frequency or consistency in which case you may need to take medication to control it. 
However, if the watery output is accompanied by abdominal pain, nausea or vomiting you should seek medical advice immediately.
Normal output for a urostomy
When you first have your stoma surgery, the urine draining out of your stoma will be bloodstained. It will gradually clear, but can remain discoloured for two to three weeks.  The urine draining out of your stoma should be clear or straw-coloured, just like anyone who is well hydrated. 
You will need to empty your urostomy bag via the outlet tap several times a day, as urine flows from the urostomy continuously. With a urostomy, it is recommended for you to change your ostomy bag 1-2 times a week. 
It is normal to have mucus in your urine, as your stoma is made from a piece of bowel. The amount of mucus should decrease over time but may be helped by taking Vitamin C or a daily glass of cranberry juice. (Warning: if you take Warfarin you should not drink cranberry juice.) 
You may experience either diarrhoea or constipation in the first few weeks after your operation; if so, consult your doctor. If the colour or smell of the urine changes or it becomes cloudy or if you feel unwell, you may be showing signs of a urinary tract infection and you should seek medical advice immediately.
Ostomy and stoma care products are available at SM Health Care Sdn Bhd.
Have a specialist for consultation when you purchase any ostomy and stoma care product from us.