I’m looking for ways to help my grandson, who has an ileostomy that is always leaking.
Ostomy leakage is a problem which all ostomates will no doubt encounter at some point during their time with a stoma. For most people it’s a common occurrence in their early weeks of managing an ostomy when you are still finding your ostomy-feet and working out which products are best for you, and which routine gives the best results. It can cause a heck of a mess, not only to our clothes, but to our self-confidence too.
To find out what is causing the leakage start by checking the back of the flange after it’s leaked and you’ve removed it. This holds the biggest clue of all, you will be able to see what path the stool took on its break to freedom. Compare this to your skin and see what problems are present.
- Condition of the skin. Is it raw, or does it have a rash all over it, or on part of it? If so, you may be allergic to the flange, and it may be interfering with the adhesive properties of the flange. Also, check to see if the area around where the flange leaks is any worse than elsewhere.
- With leakage, the stool will always follow the path of least resistance. Do you have a belly crease which in turn is creasing the flange and creating a nice little tunnel for your stool to escape?
- Look at your flange. Was the gap around the stoma too large? Or was it too tight? Or just right? Do you have protruding stitches around your stoma which the flange has trouble moulding around?
- Do you have a belly cavity near the stoma? Flanges may struggle to adhere to these dips in your belly and lead to leakage.
- Check your stoma. Is it flat/flush to the skin? Is it inverted / pulled in?
Some causes of leakage could be:
- Flush to the skin or inverted stoma
- Poor fitting flange/odd shaped stoma
- Belly cavity around stoma
- Parastomal hernia and/or Pancaking
Once you’ve discovered the source of your leakage then you are in a better position to be successful in stopping your leakage in its track, and there are a number of products available on the market which are designed to help reduce opportunities for leakage to occur.
Arrange a visit with an Enterostomal Therapy Nurse, (ET nurse – registered nurse [RN], who has specialized training in treating patients with ostomies), who can assist you in assessing the leakage issue and make equipment product recommendations for ensuring a good seal. One thing to bear in mind with all ostomy products is that our bodies are very individual, and because of that, a product which works great for one person may not work anywhere near as successfully for another, and vice versa. You may need to sample various rings and seals to find the one that works best for you, which the various ostomy product companies will also assist you in finding the seal that will work for you. So there is no reason why you cannot use multiple products to help combat leakage.