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The physical and psychological impacts of a stoma - and how to address them

Ostomy surgeries on the rise

Despite efforts to maintain the intestinal tissue and treat gastrointestinal diseases, a large number of patients undergo ostomy surgery each year. Approximately 700,000 people in the EU, from young children to senior citizens, have an ostomy[1]. Around 40% have a temporary, while 60% have a permant stoma[2]. Living with a stoma has a huge impact on a person’s everyday life – both physically and psychologically.

Physical impacts

Some of the more common physical problems many ostomates experience are:

  • a heavy/dragging sensation from a pouch filling up
  • skin problems caused by stool or urine leakage onto the skin or adhesives being changed too often
  • flatulence creating uncomfortable noise
  • odour from the content of the pouch
  • parastomal hernia formation

These are just a few of the uncomfortable physical problems related to an ostomy.

Psychological impacts

The psychological and emotional impacts of having a stoma can be enormous. Having a stoma may potentially decrease quality of life and therefore the emotional state of a person should be  assessed and supported on a regular basis.

Not only does the individual with the stoma have to cope with sensitive issues such as loss of control over elimination, they may also experience challenges concerning:

  • fear of leakage
  • body image
  • sexual function
  • social isolation
  • stigma
  • fear of public exposure
  • embarrassment
  • helplessness caused by loss of control
  • uncertainty about the future and
  • decreased mood

A severe concern expressed by many ostomates is the change of body image. The worries and fears include odour, noise, leakage, visibility of an appliance and perceived attractiveness to others as well as the feeling of being different. Some patients may also react with disgust and shock when waking up with a stoma, especially in case of an emergency surgery.

The illness leading to stoma formation usually also brings about great emotional pressures. The planning and implementation of care for a patient with a newly formed stoma is therefore very important, as the effect of both illness and stoma surgery has the potential to alienate patients from social activity so that they become reclusive in nature and develop elements of depression.

Quality of life: Egyptian study

A study on quality of life for people with ostomy was conducted from August 2013 to January 2015 in Cairo, Egypt. The study enrolled 96 participants and showed that all of the patients reported one or more complications and/or problems, which included difficulties finding privacy to empty the pouch (51), leakage (37), the need to adapt their clothing (69), local skin irritation (28), the presence of offensive odor and/or bowel noise (90) and difficulties participating in social activities (72)[3]

This study reinforces the need to redirect our attention to the health and wellbeing of patients with stoma, seeking to identify appropriate solutions to their daily challenges.


[1] http://www.medtecheurope.org/sites/default/files/resource_items/files/7%20Evidence%20report%20ostomy%20-%20FINAL.pdf

[2] http://hi-r-ed.com/Byram/Caring_for_your_Ostomy/Caring4Ostomy%20(p2).htm

[3] http://www.o-wm.com/article/descriptive-study-assess-quality-life-egyptian-patients-stoma


Ostomy belts can help

Some of the challenges encountered when having a stoma can be addressed by using stoma belts.

The Corsinel StomaSafe Classic ​and Corsinel StomaSafe Plus belts are developed with the sole purpose to help remedy some of the challenges described above..

 

StomaSafe Classic and Stomasafe Plus can be used either in specific situations, e.g. during sports activity, or during completely normal everyday activities, all day and night, as preferred by the user.

StomaSafe Classic is well known for its supportive function and breathability, especially during nighttime use or in warm seasons.

Stomasafe Plus is renowned for its supportive function and skin friendly softness of the material, similar to soft and silky smooth underwear, offering superior comfort.

With these belts the user gets a solution that offers safety and addresses some of the physical and psychological challenges experienced when having an ostomy.

Physical challenges addressed by the StomaSafe Classic and Plus:

  • Pouch detachment:
    The belts offer superior support to an ostomy pouch, reducing heavy sensation from a continuously accumulating pouch as well as fear of partial or total pouch detachment, especially during daily or physical activity.
  • Sensitive skin, fear of infection:
    As we know that skin around the ostomy may be sensitive and prone to infections, the belts have 2 layers of fabric to create an effective barrier between stoma pouch and skin. This feature prevents the harmful build-up of moisture, reducing skin irritation, infection risk and general discomfort. For optimal skin friendliness and superior comfort, the belts are knitted in a fabric that is very breathable, to accommodate wear around the clock or during physical activity.

Both belts are made in a fabric with great elastic properties to ensure that the stoma is able to produce under the fabric and hence the stoma flow is not affected by wearing StomaSafe.

Psychological challenges addressed by StomaSafe Classic and Plus:

  • Fear of leakage:
    The belts assist fixation of and support to the pouch, reducing and maybe even eliminating leakage and the fear of it.
  • Fear of noise and smells:
    Wearing the belts will reduce uncomfortable noise and unwanted smells through the layer of fabric covering the stoma and the pouch.
  • Bulky appearance:
    The belts offer a more smooth profile and a discreet appearance that improves perceived attractiveness in every situation. Generally, the discreteness improves challenges with body image and self confidence by reducing fear of public exposure as well as exposure in intimate situations.
  • Loss of control and self-esteem:
    Through the ability to improve body profile as well as perceived attractiveness, the belts offer the opportunity to recapture elements of control, increasing self-esteem and reducing the feeling of helplessness.
  • Isolation and depression:
    The smooth profile and general discreteness have a motivating impact on the will to socialize, reducing or even eliminating harmful isolation as well as decreased mood or depression.

Contact our medical expert for more information on the subject

Nurse & Medical Product Manager

Heidi Vang Hagelskjær
Tel. +45 4099 2017 E-mail: hvh@tytex.dk

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