Dealing With Ostomy Blockages: Ostomy Tips

Dealing With Ostomy Blockages: Ostomy Tips

Hey guys, it’s Eric. Today when I actually
talked about a pretty important topic for ostomates, and that is: blockages, and how to handle them. I’m no stranger to blockages I’ve had a couple of partial
blockages throughout my ostomy career but I’m also been sent to the hospital
because of a blockage and I i tell you guys it is not fun at all. The word
“NG Tube” just put the fear of God into my heart, and I really would want
anyone to avoid a hospital visit because of a blockage if possible. Now for some
of us, blockages are just part of the package. If you’ve got a digestive
disorder unfortunately you might also have bowel obstructions and structures
and other things that come along with that so I think for the most part for
people that don’t have those pre-existing issues, then blockages are
something that’s usually completely in your control, so I hope some of these
tips will help to prevent blockages for you completely or will guide you through
them in the event that you develop one. Now I can’t stress enough: blockages are
not something to joke about! If you suspect that you have a blockage and
you’re throwing up or you feel nauseated or there’s just a lot of pain going on I
suggest that you head to your local ER and have them take care of you. Believe
me guys you do not want to run into problems and you have a blockage and
they do tend to be pretty common when you’re a new ostomate, but a lot veteran ostomates will still, and can still, get them if they’re not careful. “Blockage prevention”. Now for the most
part there are lists of foods that you know you do wanna stay away from if you
have some difficulties passing them but I tend to look at things as more about how you
eat food and not necessarily what you’re eating so for me I tend to follow a
couple rules when it comes to avoiding blockages. First of all I always take my
time when I eat. I know the one time that I actually landed in a hospital I was
rushing I basically did everything wrong. So I was not chew my food well, I
was rushing through the meal, I was eating a lot of food all at once, and
that really all just accumulated into one big problem. So the first thing I do
is I take my time. Now and the second thing that I do is I chew, and I chew, and I chew, and I chew and I chew. This perhaps is gonna be the most important thing to remember when you’re
talking about the avoidance of a blockage. I think that chewing, you know,
is just so important I can’t stress this enough: you want to chill until your food
is essentially liquefied. Yes, it’ll take you a bit more time to eat, but believe
me it’ll take you a lot more time to recover in a hospital! Now another thing
is the volume of food that you’re eating. I tend to be someone who eats few meals
a day, but when I do eat it tends to be large meals and that tends to cause
problems for me. If you snack throughout the day and have, you know, relatively
moderate sized meals, then you’re probably not gonna have too many issues.
But if you are like me and you gorge on a single meal, you’re going to have a lot of
trouble passing that through your system and a lot of the times will probably get
some partial blockage is along the way. So if you can snack throughout the day,
if you can split up your meals, that’s definitely going to help in the long
term. If you’re a new ostomate one thing that you should keep in mind is the fact
that your stoma is gonna be really swollen and that prevents a lot of food
from passing through it. And that’s one of the reasons why every new ostomate
is told to go on a very easy to digest, low-fiber diet without any skins or
whole nuts or anything like that. That’s actually pretty good information
when you’re in new ostomate. For me personally, once I got past that one or
two month mark then foods just became easier for me to digest, and as a matter
of fact, my digestion strengthened for about a year, I would say, until I totally
felt comfortable with eating and not getting blockages and that sort
of thing. So it will take some time to readjust your your system, but if you’re
a new ostomate, just hang in there! Believe me it will get a lot better. Another thing that you can do, and I know
a lot of people do this, is to have liquids with your meals. That will help
to move things along especially if you’re having a very high starch meals. I
know for myself personally if I eat a lot of potatoes and I’m not washing it down with some kind of liquid, then I tend to have the feeling of a partial
blockage and that’s not really that fun. Ok so you think that you might have a
blockage. What next? Well first of all it’s important to note
that not everyone’s experience is going to be the same. For me, when I have a
blockage, I tend to exhibit some of the following things: First of all I have no
output and that’s kind of a classic sign of a blockage. What I will have, though, is
sometimes a bit of gas coming out of the stoma or liquid output which is a little
unusual for me. I’ll also get the feeling of pressure behind my stoma. It’s almost
like you’re trying to pass a baseball and just nothing’s coming out! You feel
that pressure, “crampiness”, and when I’m experiencing that I actually do notice
that my stoma is retracting, and if I’m wearing a clear pouch I can see right
away whether or not I’ve got an issue going on if I’ve got a bit of pain. Now
when things start to get really bad and you’ve got a blockage for more than a
few hours ,what you might start to develop is nausea, and in some extreme
cases. vomiting. Now when I was sent to the hospital with a blockage, vomiting
was kind of my last step. Once I started throwing up I went straight to
the hospital and I mean they had to pump my stomach out and do all kinds of stuff.
I probably waited a little too long! So I think if you’re gonna get to
the point where you’re going wait till you’re throwing, up your probably going to
run into some trouble so I would recommend not doing what I do and try to get to the hospital sooner. Now other
people might have other symptoms to go along with a partial blockage. Some
people might have very strong smelling output, and for some that might be
totally normal, but for others if that’s a drastic shift from what you’re used to and you might want to keep an eye on
that. Now it’s important to note that if you have a blockage or if you suspect
the partial blockage don’t eat anything. I know you would probably think that “hey
if I eat something it’s going to kind of push things along” and that’s kinda not
a good thing, ok? You don’t want to be doing that. If you’re blocked, even if
it’s a partial blockage, if you try to shove food down your throat it’s just going to
compact and create a bigger problem for you. What I generally try to do is I will
have warm liquids and this could either be just warm water or tea, and in some
cases I had even prune juice but prune juice you really do have to watch out
for because if you have a complete blockage and you’re drinking prune juice
or any kind of laxatives or products that will give you a laxative-like effect, you’re gonna create more issues for yourself . So I would only do that if I
have a partial blockage and there is some output coming through but not as much as
I’d like or not as much as I know is still in there. So that’s really the only
time when I use a prune juice or laxative-like product. I do not
recommend *at all* taking a laxative. That can create many issues for you and
you absolutely don’t want to do that unless your doctor has specifically
instructed you. Now what I find really helps when I feel partially blocked is
to just massage around the stoma. Now you don’t have to go crazy! You don’t have to,
you know, intensely massage the area. Just push along your stoma and if you have
your wafer on, it’ll basically be around the edge of the wafer just
slightly inside the border of that wafer and just press down on some areas and
you may actually find that some areas are more tender than others and I’ll
generally massage that and I can massage that for several hours at a time, but eventually that will help to move
things along that way. Along with massaging, I will also bend my body like that or
forward or do crunches and that will also help to stretch things along inside
and hopefully will loosen up anything that stuck in there. It has worked for me
in the past, and may not for you, but you know it’s something that you can definitely
try. Now a lot of people like to get into a very warm bath. That’s something that I
haven’t personally tried but I know that it it’s helped a lot of people so if
that’s your thing definitely go for that. Now what I also tend to do if I find
that I’ve got a really stubborn partial blockage is I actually remove my appliance
altogether! For some of us if we’re putting our appliance on and it’s a little
too tight (especially if you’re a newer ostomate) and you’re stoma is swollen, just removing your appliance will help to open things up and ,you know, if there’s
anything just stuck behind the opening of your stoma it should help to come out
once you’ve done that. So that might be another thing that can help you. So guys,
those are a few of the things that I do when I’m blocked and some of the things
that I do to avoid blockages. Again I do want to make sure that you realize
blockages are not a joke. You do want to talk to your doctor or head to the ER if
you suspect you have a blockage, but that doesn’t mean you need to be freaked out
about not being able to eat or not being able to eat some of your favorite foods.
For me personally, it’s more about *how I eat* not what I eat, so that’s one thing that I’d
like you to remember too. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the video. I’ll see you in the next
one. Take care!

Comments (44)

  1. hi Eric great video. I've had a parchell blockage when I had my surgery done 11 months ago glad I was.still in hospital where they simply pressed around the area and put some moviecal in my juice this helped things move along. stay healthy and see you in the next blog

  2. I'm waiting to have my ileostomy and I've got a blockage and bad Crohns at the moment…not pleasant. The chewing thing is so right 🙂

  3. I was staying with my cousin in London when I had my first real blockage (about 2/3hours away from home)!! Had to take a bus, a tube & a train to get home then my mom drove me to hospital! Not a nice experience! My output was like water and my stoma retracted? Was very painful! Drank lots and lots of water and eventually it cleared itself.. Before the doctor had seen me! I totally agree chewing and eating slowly are essential!!

  4. P.s. I have started to use a heat bag ( one of those things you put in the microwave to warm up), I put it on my stomach and now and then will gently rub my belly. This helps a bit 🙂

  5. Hahaha god NG tubes truly are the worst. The first two to three years after my ileostomy consisted of monthly sometimes even weekly trips to the ER because of blockages. I gotta say though an NG tube is a lot less painful than a blockage. Thankfully it's been a couple years since I've had to go to the ER for a blockage. I've found what helps me the most is laying down and putting my knees to my chest back and forth, ill get up and walk a lot to help the blockage pass, sometimes chewing gum can help activate your intestines and help a blockage as well, and sometimes even a hot cup of tea will do the trick but it's possible you may vomit it back up. Nice video by the way, take care!

  6. Thanks man I'm posed to be having surgery June 7th on ostomy thanks bro

  7. I use to have a huge issue with chewing, I never chewed enough and almost choked every time I tried swallowing the food. In the hospital after recovering from surgery I was having my first meal in 6 months and I didn't chew well enough and had to stay in the hospital an additional weeks because I had a blockage

  8. Great information Eric.

  9. so do you have crohns disease? what is causing these blockages?

  10. How do you know when the blockage has fully cleared up?. Because last night I was nauseous after eating some lettuce and I eventually vomited which relieved most of the nauseous feeling. But I went to the hospital just to make sure I was okay and they said I could wait it out at home drinking only liquids, and to return if I vomit again. Well, I'm still passing watery output now with occasional gas but I'm scared to eat because I'm not sure the blockage has actually cleared. Any suggestions?. Thank you.

  11. Yea, well…you don't drink and eat at the same time, because you won't have enzymes to help you digest.

  12. Warm baths with 2 cups of Epsom salt and 1 cup of baking soda and/or castor oil packs. Vitamin c and/or magnesium help too.

  13. I think i may have a partial blockage I have pain at the top of my stoma it's painful to touch to.

  14. Thanks for the tips. Having a bag is a daily struggle. 😥


  16. I had my colectomy a little under two weeks ago. I was just eating some canned peaches, as recommended by the dietician, and as I started to chew, a large chunk of slimy peach slid down my throat and now I'm really nervous that I'll experience a blockage. Maybe the same sliminess that sent it down my throat will allow it to easily exit my stoma?

    Do I just have to wait and see?

  17. I have 2 paristomal hernias and a huge prolapse from a loop ileocolostomy. Is it still safe to massage? Abdominal adhesions can also cause blockages. Do you know how frequent they occur with abdominal adhesions, peristomal hernias and prolapses? Thank you for all of the great videos. They have helped me a lot! I was reading about how some exercises/massages are beneficial for the adhesions. It would be great if you made a video on that! Afraid to have more surgery and that can result in even more abdominal adhesions.

  18. No, not a joke at all, and no fun! Thank you for the tips..I've used a few. I myself have had multiple bowel obstructions, multiple surgeries etc. I'm as you know a new iliostomy paitent, and allready I've had 2 obstructions. Not due to food, but scar tissue. Anyway, I've had several scares these past few month's, not sure how to help things move these tips are perfect, a need to know.
    Thanks again so much!

  19. ABSOLUTELY SUPERB Video Eric. To save me typing it all again, I will add here a comment I made on a LetsTalkIBD Video when Maggie had a blockage….here it is….
    Hi there….I’ve had my Ileostomy for 48 years!!! I’ve had blockages….not too many….THANK GOD… as a bad blockage can be horrific!! NO LAXATIVES whatsoever if you have a blockage!!! Take your appliance off…it’s not working anyway….hot bath…..lie on bed….do cycling in the air exercises….keep turning over onto one side then the other. Take Paracetamol to dull the pain. I drink loads and loads of hot, sweet tea. You MUST keep hydrated. Last resort….off to Hospital, especially as soon as any vomiting starts. I am the culprit of my last blockages. A HUGE pizza, with Mushrooms and Pineapple (sure blockage makers!!). CHEW EACH MOUTHFUL TO A PULPY MUSH!, ileostomies LOVE SLOP!! You should chew each mouthful 20 times before swallowing!! Blockage makers: ALL FOODS THAT DON’T “DISSOLVE” IN WATER!!…..Mushrooms, Pineapple, apple, hard pears, Lettuce, Sweetccorn, Raw Onions (all type stuff), Cucumber, Nuts, raw vegetables, stodgy pastries (pizza, etc.). When you eat…..THINK!! will this DISSOLVE? If the answer is NO…..if you MUST eat it…chew, chew, CHEW (20 times) until it is a slop. Don’t hurry food….it just clogs up…Drink plenty. Hope this helps someone to avoid the truly horrific experience of a blockage with an Ileostomy. I was to become a Doctor – stopped by being too ill with Crohn’s. When you get a blockage, peristaltic action (the involuntary muscle movement of the intestine that pushes food along its length, almost a snake-like effect) eventually almost gives up pushing and it slows down, making a blockage situation worse. People with “normal” intestines can “strain” voluntarily (on the loo) to push things along. Not so with an Ileostomy!! I hope my input comment to this video is helpful. If it helps stop ONE person from getting a blockage, it has been worth me spending the time to type this…..

  20. I’ve had SEVERAL blockages, and I also HATE the dreaded NG tube!!

    Sadly for me, it doesn’t seem to matter what food I eat, it’s so annoying!!

  21. Thank you so much for the information. I woke up at 4am with my husband thinking his loop ileostomy is blocked or partially blocked and he was kind of freaking out. I knew just where to go for info! You’ve been a great help to him since his colectomy last June. Thanks ♥️

  22. Thanks for all your good advice.

  23. Hi. I’m scared to melt my bag off using a heating pad

  24. I had regular blockages when I first got my stoma and was still figuring out what foods I can and can’t eat and for years after that I was fine, but suddenly this year I’ve had 3 blockages – two of them major and causing me to vomit and miss a day or two of school – and it’s really just the worst. I don’t like telling my friends I was off school for a “stomach ache” (I’ve never even considered going to a hospital to treat a blockage whoops) but there’s not much else I can say to them except that it feels like there’s a creature tryna rip it’s way out of your abdomen lmao. Anyways great video, very accurate and looking forward to my next inevitable blockage! (Not)

  25. Ok. Answer this ! Everytime I change my bag I get constipated so why is that ?

  26. Thank you Eric, you always give great advice..I come to you for answers, not for me, but for my husband who has an ileostomy..He has colon cancer, with liver cancer on chemo..With chemo going through him, this brings other challengers he has to deal with.

  27. NG tubes put the fear of God in me. I would rather even the long surgical abdominal cut than an NG tube.

  28. I am lucky not to have had a blockage yet, but I think I came close. I've had some of the feelings that are described by you and the comments so now I know what those feelings are. I do notice that when I do some bending over I poop. Especially when I have the bag off to clean it and I forget to cover it 🙁 I also was surprised to see raw fruit on the list. Thanks again for all your tips.

  29. Thanks for the tips my love one is in the hospital right now for bowel obstruction wish I would have saw this video sooner but it will truly help in the future

  30. Just to thank you for your videos ,they help me,to understand my stoma ,l,m new to it,been 4 months now .

  31. I find that drinking warm to hot water with my meals food passes easier. When I have cold water it coagulates the food and it wont pass as fast. I have stopped drinking anything cold.

  32. Despite that I've only had one blockage, believe me … It was not, pretty….. Gosh darn peanuts!

  33. What if the patient has few teeth and cannot chew well? Has colostomy.

  34. Eric do you eat hummus? I miss it but am afraid to try it, for gas reasons or blockage reasons. I have an illistomoy like you do.

  35. I have 2 ?'s. I love eating sandwiches, salads r these high risk 4 blockages since I used 2 have colon restrictions/constipation all the time b4 my ostomy? How long is hospital stay when u get a blockage & is it same care 4 partial ( having a hard time understanding partial blockages). Any opinion will b honored.

  36. Very helpful. Chew! Chew ! Chew! What about enzymes after a meal to help break up food and nourish the cells since I am not eating enough fruits & vegs due to their high fiber contests . I am 4 months new as a ileostomate. Had my 1st no joke blockage late Feb 2019 & NG tube was scary. Gr8 advice.

  37. You are so good at making the videos. Being direct is perfect. Some people tend to rattle on about other things that have nothing to do with the subject at hand. So thank you for being direct and friendly in your presentation. 🙂

  38. Are there any other tips you or others have? I just had my second one and was ready to head to ER (YUCK) as I felt several minutes that I was going to pass out from the pain which was so intense for 2 1/2 hours… when I went for my phone…it was dead so I had to get to my daughter upstairs and the walking up stairs.. thank God finally did move it. I had rubbed my stomach and around the stoma. (I feel hard spots but I think it is where scar tissue is under stitches perhaps. I moved in a bunch of positions…yoga stuff. I drank lots of hot water. I took a gas pill right after the meal when it started to get uncomfortable. I have low blood sugar and along with taking tramadol, my hunger hits every 2 hours after a meal and hits fast. So I had some interruptions and was late to have the meal ready and ate too fast. I have never chewed enough. When I first got home…I was very careful. I am one month from emergency ileostomy. I do notice I can eat what others don't BUT if I do not chew almost to water….I am in trouble. I am allergic to nearly everything people here eat so I do eat whole grain spelt and kamut along with some iceberg and cucs no skin and no seeds. ANY other tips would be appreciated! THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR VIDEOS. I always said I would not have any surgery (too frail at 61 and morbidly underweight) and ended up with emergency appendix removal Feb2 then March 6 my whole colon out. Woke up knowing NOTHING about the pouches, diet, recover time…NOTHING. You and Ostomy Diaries have taught me so much. The hospital sent me home with NO supplies so that was another shake up when the Home Care nurses came and they too had no supplies for a change of pouch! Without the grace of God I would be crazy! GOd's Word has been my comfort and I pray for the day I too can help others! Blessings, Janet

  39. Thank you for your videos ,they help

  40. Thank you for this. I have had a colostomy for 3 years and I panic when it is going off all the time and when its quite. My doctor has prescribed laxatives for the quite times. This video is great and puts my mind at ease. Thank you so much.

  41. I had a blockage in Jan. 2017, nearly 2 years after my initial surgery. It was caused by a small parastomal hernia that had developed. Symptoms: griping pain immediately after eating my supper – thought I’d started a tummy bug. Bed time: no output – never happened before, as the bag is always full at bed time. Felt really off colour, and had frequent griping pains, and in the middle of the night, vomited. Early next morning, still no output, so told my hubby and he got me straight to A&E.

    Then followed several days while they tried to unblock me – one doctor put his finger inside Kermit to try and unblock him but that didn’t work. Then they put a long flexible rubber tube in, but next morning, Kermit had spat it out and it was all in the bag, curled up, but still no output. I had to wait THREE DAYS to get a CT scan which eventually revealed the problem and I had emergency surgery. By this time I was in a seriously weakened state and had vomited quite a bit and had the mother and father of a headache. Eventually the nurse said I’d be better with the dreaded NG tube – I refused at first but she more or less insisted. It was nothing short of torture. I NEVER want to go through that again.

    I had open surgery, with the surgeon opening up my original scar. It was done by a general surgeon (not a colorectal specialist) so he just sutured the hernia closed. These repairs have a 100% recurrence rate, which in my case was only about 3 months later.

    After my surgery I was very poorly and was in for nearly 3 weeks. I had further vomiting and I brought up some absolutely disgusting black stuff which made me feel even worse. They gave me cyclizine for the vomiting and I started to hallucinate, and all the nurses grew beards – and I mean the female nurses! When I told them, it caused a great deal of amusement as you can imagine. One has to keep a sense of humour under such circumstances.

    My electrolytes got all out of balance and one night I had to have 2 courses of insulin to try and force the excess potassium back into my tissues before it caused damage to my heart, and not being diabetic, they had to check my blood glucose every half hour by pricking my fingers. My veins are shot from the chemo I had just after my original surgery so they had to make 2 or 3 attempts each time, in order to get any blood. By morning all my fingers were really sore. The first course of insulin didn’t work, so they had to repeat the process and they were at it all night. When I eventually got to sleep I had a horrific nightmare and was crying out and woke everyone up!! It took me ages to recover from this whole awful experience and my wound was weeping gunk and the whole thing was a mess.

    Last year the hernia was repaired again, this time by my own colorectal surgeon and he put mesh in. However, 2 weeks later I was back in with sepsis – 2 large infected haematomas in my abdomen. I had 2 drains inserted, one under general anaesthetic. I was in constant pain throughout. My hubby was told that if they hadn’t got my temperature down in the first 48 hours, I’d have died. I had 2 units of blood, and 3 different cocktails of powerful IV antibiotics before they found the right combination, and I continued with the oral version for about 3 weeks after I was discharged. Because of all that infected blood floating around, the mesh repair failed and the hernia was back again only a month or two later. I have now been referred to another hospital and it is likely I shall require further, specialised surgery for this “intractable” hernia which carries the risk of further blockages. I had to wait FOUR MONTHS for the latest CT scan, and I am now awaiting the results, and further appointments.

    Blockages are a PAIN and should definitely be avoided if at all possible. At all costs protect yourself from the NG tube monster who is out to get you, and shows no mercy!

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