Diarrhea isn’t fun for anyone, and ostomates are no exception. It’s especially dangerous for ostomates because we’re already at risk for dehydration and electrolyte imbalance, and diarrhea can be a big culprit of this if fluids and electrolytes are not quickly replenished.
Some people with ileostomies naturally have loose stool all the time, in which case diarrhea would be determined by the quantity of output. If you measure your output on regular days, you can figure out your average output amount. If you think you have diarrhea and measure your output as being over your average output amount, then you might be right. A normal output quantity ranges from 800-1000cc per day.
Illness and antibiotics seem to be the main culprits of diarrhea. A partial blockage can also cause diarrhea, along with cramps, a strong odor, and sometimes a noisy stoma. You might find yourself with loose stool because of stress or certain foods you’ve eaten – so don’t worry that you have diarrhea every time your stool is loose, even if it’s typically pretty thick.
Diarrhea is characterized by sudden large quantities of liquid stool, and can be accompanied by cramping.
If you suspect your have diarrhea (or even if you have loose stools), there are some foods you can eat to thicken your output including applesauce, bananas, boiled rice, peanut butter, and toast (the BRAT diet, basically). Also remember to replenish your fluids. The UOAA suggests drinking a sweetened clear tea or orange juice one hour followed by a salty liquid (broth) the next, and alternating between the two to ensure you’re getting the electrolytes you need. It doesn’t hurt to keep some Pedialyte or other electrolyte drinks on hand.