Stoma blockages happen when something is stopping your output from coming out. Often times it’s food (see page 12 of the UOAA nutrition guide for a chart on foods most likely to cause a blockage). My understanding is that the hole in your abdominal muscles that the intestine is pulled through doesn’t have as much flexibility as the intestine itself so if a piece of food is too big or smaller pieces bind together, sometimes they can’t get through and cause a blockage.  An analogy for when you eat a bunch of little things that would not cause a blockage on their own but seem to have done so combined might be imagining 5 lanes of traffic trying to squeeze into one lane – you’re going to get backed up, but eventually things might work themselves out. Blockages can also be caused due to surgery complications, adhesions, hernias and pregnancy.

Blockages are characterized by waves of abdominal cramping and little to no output after 4-6 hours. Output that does make it out is usually liquid or very watery. You often feel very full or bloated and your stoma will likely swell.

A partial blockage is when some output manages to make it’s way out, usually in the form of liquid or mucous. A complete blockage is when nothing comes out.

  • DRINK LOTS OF WATER, hot water, tea, coca cola, grape juice
  • Take a warm bath or shower to relax your muscles
  • Gently massage your abdomen around the stoma in hopes that a little pressure will help “pop” the blockage out”
  • Take off your appliance if your stoma starts to swell up more than normal, as if it continues to swell your wafer could cut into it and cause it to bleed. If you put your appliance back on before the blockage has passed, cut it a little bigger to compensate for possible swelling.
  • Hug your knees to your chest and roll back and forth on your back
  • Don’t hesitate to call your WOCN or doctor for advice if you suspect you have a blockage.
  • Call your WOCN and/or go to the hospital if you begin vomiting or have a complete blockage that doesn’t respond to your home treatment.
  • The UOAA put together a PDF with instructions for what to do at home that also includes instructions for the ER to follow if you end up having to go to the hospital. I printed this out and keep it with me when I travel, just in case.
  • Coca Cola – Fox News published an article about this, click here to see it.
  • Grape Juice or Prune Juice – they have laxative-like qualities.
  • Honey and Olive Oil
  • Heating pad
  • Phone number for your WOCN and/or Surgeon
  • Do not take laxatives or other medications unless your doctor advises you to.
  • Do not eat solid foods until the blockage passes and then it’s good to stick to a low residue diet for a couple days until the swelling goes away.
  • Do not put anything into your stoma unless your doctor advises you to.