Managing Dehydration with Norovirus and an Ostomy


Hello everyone, I was wondering if anyone has experienced heavy diarrhea with your ostomy bag? I am recovering from the nasty Norovirus this week and had diarrhea for 3 days and also threw up 20 times. The pouch was filling up quickly and it was like pure water. Unfortunately, I also experienced my first leaking bag in bed through the filter (managed to go 10 years without one). Due to the watery/acidity output, I was changing my wafer/pouch once or twice a day. That was a challenge with my stoma running like a faucet. With our ostomy conditions, we need to be mindful that we become dehydrated very quickly. I was drinking Gatorade and water at a good rate and was unable to keep my hydration level up and therefore went to the emergency room very sick and dehydrated. After 3 bags of IV fluid, my potassium and sodium levels returned to almost normal. Scary that my sodium level dropped to 121 (low level is 135) and the doctor said it can be dangerous that low as it affects the brain and you can become very delusional. I am starting to feel better now, but I wanted to share my story in hopes it may help my ostomy friends if you encounter this virus. I hope everyone is doing awesome and keeps plowing forward. Stay well. Penguins7


Thanks for sharing that with us, Penguins7.

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Problem with a virus like that is everything is gonna go through you so you're better off not having anything on one hand but on the other hand you gotta keep hydrated. &zwj


Hi Penguins,

I think BobMac21 is going through the same thing, per his post. Doesn't sound like fun!! Glad you're feeling better!!



My doctor has given me codeine if the diarrhea is excessive. It really slows things down. Thanks for worrying about us as you strive to heal!

Living with Your Ostomy | Hollister
Reply to w30bob

BobMac21 here, still figuring this site out how to reply. Yep, just getting over Noro, still in hospital on IV. It's a nasty bug. My stoma was doing the firehose act, had them unhook me so things slowed down long enough to change the barrier. Taking Imodium, family brought Pedialyte from home. Dehydration is a danger for ostomates and you often can't drink enough to compensate with this kind of bug. Don't let it go on, get to a hospital.


I have had an ileostomy for over 40 years and I have experienced this kind of dehydration several times. It is very serious when this happens and can cause long-term damage to your kidneys. It also will cause extreme cramps throughout your body if you lose enough water. Additionally, you can blackout and fall. I found much of this out the hard way. My advice for you would be to pay attention, listen to your body, and take this seriously. After many years of complaining to doctors about cramps in my legs at night, which I now understand as an obvious symptom of dehydration, I finally found out that the cramps were not caused by lack of potassium as I was told many times by my doctors. It was simply that I was dehydrated and didn't realize it. Over time, this damaged my kidneys a little at a time. You will not notice any symptoms until much damage has been done. My advice is to watch for dry mouth and/or leg cramps at night. Also, make sure you and your doctor watch your creatinine level from blood testing. This number will start moving higher when your kidneys are not filtering properly. Catching it early is important, so you can take steps to slow down the damage that is being done. If the number is high, you also may want to seek out the help of a kidney doctor, aka a nephrologist. Mine recommended that I get weekly hydration infusions and it has helped a lot. I used to have leg cramps many nights a week and now hardly ever but more importantly it is keeping my kidneys from getting worse and keeping me off of dialysis. My kidneys are functioning at around 30 and I'm hoping to keep them from getting worse. If you have any questions let me know. Also, don't hesitate when your ostomy starts pouring out fluids like a hydrant. If it's getting clear, get someone to drive you to an ER before you fall down. You may also find that some doctors in the ER don't understand what is going on and don't understand that without a colon, you will dehydrate much quicker than someone with a colon. You will be the one hitting the floor so if this happens you may need to educate them and push for an IV before you do. Good luck.


I usually end up at the ER every time I get a stomach virus. Unfortunately, since I hit my 50s, I get sick at the drop of a hat (as the old saying goes), especially with little grandkids around. I do keep a container of Gatorade mix always on hand as a backup before I decide to get checked at the ER. That dehydration will take me down fast.