Dealing with a Persistent Stomach Bug: Seeking Advice

Mar 24, 2023 2:03 am

Hospitalized with some nasty bug I thought was going around, my output is just crazy, not stopping. Waiting for them to culture the germ responsible but in the meantime need to slow things down so I can change my barrier before it breaks down. Anyone else catch this bug? Did anything help, the doctors don't want me taking Imodium so things will "flush through" but I need to do something.

Mar 24, 2023 3:15 am

Hi Bob,

Doesn't sound like fun you're having there! Why not stop eating, then when your bowels are empty you can change your barrier. Eating anything, even fiber, is still going to have to come out, and until you get the 'bug' under control your bowels will remain irritated/inflamed, so eating things that normally thicken the stool really won't work and will fly right through too. Just a thought.


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Mar 24, 2023 8:52 am


Bob has come up with a great solution: eat nothing for 24 hours, not even soups, because all you're doing is feeding the bug. Try sticking to clear fluids also for the 24 hours, e.g. plain water. Hope you get better soon. XX

ron in mich
Mar 24, 2023 12:57 pm

Hi Bobmac, the last time I was admitted for a bug/food poisoning, I was given clear liquids for a day along with anti-nausea meds, and when I was sent home, the doc said only light meals like soups or broth for a day.

Mar 24, 2023 2:49 pm
Reply to w30bob

Haven't eaten for 2 days, they have me on IV fluids which just keep going through me most out my stoma not even my bladder. It's the "bug" doing it.

Words of Encouragement from Ostomy Advocates I Hollister
Mar 24, 2023 4:43 pm

Yes, I have had my fair share of stomach bugs over the years. I agree with doctors; it's best to let it run its course as taking Imodium, etc., will keep it in your system for longer. If you have an ileostomy, don't drink plain water; it will come out in your bag almost as fast as you drink it, making you dehydrate even more. Add some cordial drink to water; it makes all the difference and drink milk.

It's just a case of being quick changing and don't worry about giving your skin a good wash; just a quick wipe over will do in an emergency situation. You can change it in 1 minute when needed too. Lay your new ostomy bag out ready, peel the backing off it so it's ready to go and seal, barrier if you use them. Stand over the basin in the bathroom; if the stoma goes wild, it won't go all over the floor. Remove your old ostomy bag, quick wipe of your skin, apply a new bag. I used to have a high output jejunostomy stoma, so I learned very quickly how to change ostomies fast when needed as it often did need doing.

Mar 24, 2023 4:47 pm
Reply to BobMac21

What type of stoma do you have? Colostomy? Ileostomy? If ileostomy, what type?

Mar 24, 2023 10:27 pm
Reply to BobMac21

Hi Bob,

So here's the deal... the 'bug' is simply acute viral gastroenteritis, which means your bowels are inflamed from the virus. Your body's defense against that is to secrete water into your bowel to flush out the virus as your immune system tries to kill it. So drinking anything by mouth will result in it going straight into your bag, as the intestines cannot absorb when inflamed. So you're dehydrating as your body fights the virus. They give you IV fluids because some of what they inject will help to rehydrate you, while some will be pulled into your intestines to flush the bug out. Bottom line is the diarrhea won't stop until the inflammation subsides, which depending on the specific virus... there's 3 or 4 of them that each lasts a different amount of time... and can be anywhere from 1 to 7 days. So your output may not subside for some time.

To change your barrier with frequent output the best way is to do it on all fours over a bucket. Don't laugh... it's not pretty, but it works. With your stoma horizontal it can drain straight down while you prep and dry your skin for your new barrier. I'm assuming you're using a two-piece barrier/bag... as it will be much tougher with a one piece. Of course if someone can help you it'll be much easier than doing it one handed... but I've done it, so it can be done. If there's an ostomy nurse in that hospital they should be able to help you out. If not the wound care nurse should at least be able to hand you supplies as you need them when you change your barrier. Not a good answer, I know... but it is what it is.

Think of what a great story this will make in the near future!! Give that virus hell, Brother!!


Mar 25, 2023 4:25 pm
Reply to Ben38

Have to do this in the hospital, they have me on IV Lactated Ringers and my stoma is doing the fire hose thing. Need to change because it's been 10 days, way past my usual interval, and as the barrier breaks down I could get acid burn. Also, I need at least a minute to shave otherwise the barrier will not stick despite adhesive on it and glue I apply. Also need another minute to hold my hand on the barrier so the glue will stick cleanly or will have leakage. One doctor tried to say the IV fluid was not affecting my output but since I'm NPO, where is the liquid coming from. This is going to be a challenge no matter how fast I work...

Mar 25, 2023 7:30 pm
Reply to BobMac21

Your experience. You can do it. Take a deep breath in and out and go for it. What's the worst that can happen? Just some extra poop around. It's easily cleaned up. When mine was at its worst, I used to stand in the shower without water running, then I could wash anything that came out away easily.

Mar 25, 2023 9:37 pm

I got 'r done! With the IV pump off, things eased up and got a clean change done. Good thing, the bag and barrier were both starting to disintegrate. Nurses kept interrupting, not helping, and the doctor lectured me afterward about how bad it was to have the IV off. I don't care, it's done! Now I want to start liquids by mouth. Why is hospital food so gross?

Mar 26, 2023 3:19 am
Reply to CrappyColon

Ileostomy, I was told they removed the ileum too because the colitis was attacking that tissue.

Mar 26, 2023 8:12 am

Way to go Bob! Hospital food is so bad because it's "hospital food" has a reputation to uphold! Besides, if the food was good every homeless person from miles around would be showing up in the ER trying to get a few free meals. This way no one would ever go to a hospital to eat!

Without your terminal ileum, your bile cannot be recycled, which just adds to your output. Normally about 95% of your bile would be re-absorbed by your terminal ileum before it got to your ileocecal valve (which you also don't have), so you have a wide open highway with no tolls or slow down areas. Get over that 'bug' and get the heck out of that hospital before they really screw you up!!

Glad to hear you got that barrier changed!!! I was getting ready to recommend you slip a hose over your stoma to let it drain in a bucket while you cleaned up and changed your barrier. Now just get out of there before your next change is due!


Nov 18, 2023 2:56 pm
Reply to BobMac21

Hospital food is gross because the pay stinks and nobody wants to work that hard for nothing. I got outdated cottage cheese twice in the hospital. Working in food service my whole life taught me to check expiration dates on packaged foods. Fun never stops around here!