Printer Logo

Ileostomy - discharge


You had an injury or disease in your digestive system and needed an operation called an ileostomy. The operation changed the way your body gets rid of waste (feces).

Now you have an opening called a stoma in your belly. Waste will pass through the stoma into a pouch that collects it. You will need to take care of the stoma and empty the pouch many times a day.

Alternative Names

Standard ileostomy - discharge; Brooke ileostomy - discharge; Continent ileostomy - discharge; Abdominal pouch - discharge; End ileostomy - discharge; Ostomy - discharge; Crohn's disease - ileostomy discharge; Inflammatory bowel disease - ileostomy discharge; Regional enteritis - ileostomy discharge; Ileitis - ileostomy discharge; Granulomatous ileocolitis - ileostomy discharge; IBD - ileostomy discharge; Ulcerative colitis - ileostomy discharge

What to Expect at Home

Your stoma is made from the lining of your intestine. It will be pink or red, moist, and a little shiny.

Stool that comes from your ileostomy is thin or thick liquid, or it may be pasty. It is not solid like the stool that comes from your colon. Foods you eat, medicines you take, and other things may change how thin or thick your stool is.

Some amount of gas is normal.

You will need to empty the pouch 5 to 8 times a day.


Ask your health care provider what you should be eating when you are discharged from the hospital. You may be asked to follow a low-residue diet.

Talk with your provider if you have diabetes, heart disease, or any other condition, and you need to eat or avoid certain foods.

You may take a bath or a shower as air, soap, and water will not hurt your stoma and water will not go into the stoma. It is okay to do this with or without your pouch on.

Drugs and medicines:

Talk with your provider if you are taking birth control pills. Your body may not absorb them well enough to keep you from getting pregnant.

Emptying and Cleaning Your Pouch

It is best to empty your pouch when it is about one-third to one-half full. It is easier than when it is fuller, and there will be less odor.

To empty your pouch (remember -- stool may keep coming out of the stoma as you do this):

Clean and rinse the inside and outside of the pouch.

You will also need to know about:


Chew your foods well. This will help keep high-fiber foods from blocking your stoma.

Some signs of blockage are sudden cramping in your belly, a swollen stoma, nausea (with or without vomiting), and sudden increase of very watery output.

Drinking hot tea and other liquids may flush any foods that are blocking the stoma.

There will be times when nothing comes out of your ileostomy for a little while. This is normal.

Call your provider right away if your ileostomy bag stays empty longer than 4 to 6 hours. Your intestine may be blocked.

DO NOT just take a laxative if this problem happens.

Some foods that may block your stoma are raw pineapple, nuts and seeds, celery, popcorn, corn, dried fruits (such as raisins), mushrooms, chunky relishes, coconut, and some Chinese vegetables.

Tips for when no stool is coming from your stoma:

Loose Stools and Increased Output

Some foods will loosen your stools and can increase output after you eat them. If you believe a certain food has caused a change in your stools, do not eat it for a while, and then try again. These foods may make your stools looser:

Some foods will make your stool thicker. Some of these are applesauce, baked potatoes, rice, bread, peanut butter, pudding, and baked apples.

Drink 8 to 10 glasses of fluid a day. Drink more when it is hot or when you have been very active.

If you have diarrhea or your stools are looser or more watery:

When to Call the Doctor

Call your provider if:


Araghizadeh F. Ileostomy, colostomy, and pouches. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger & Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 117.

Mahmoud NN, Bleier JIS, Aarons CB, Paulson EC, Shanmugan S, Fry RD. Colon and rectum. In: Townsend CM Jr, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 20th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 51.

Review Date: 7/22/2016
Reviewed By: Subodh K. Lal, MD, gastroenterologist with Gastrointestinal Specialists of Georgia, Austell, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.