Travel Advice for Ostomists - GoldCare

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Travel Advice for Ostomists

We’re firm believers that a stoma should not affect the way you live your life, and for many that means the ability to travel again after the operation.

There’s no reason that your stoma should hold you back, once you’re fully recovered, of course. However, it is worth being aware of the facts and risks so that you can nullify them, most of which comes down to organisation before taking a trip.

First things first, we would always advise that you seek the advice of our doctor before travelling and if you’re travelling within Europe it’s always prudent to take your E111 card, which can be obtained through Social Security or the Post Office. Always ensure you get good insurance cover and make sure it covers you for pre-existing conditions that includes stoma’s. The Ileostomy Association can provide you with a specialist insurance scheme to cover holidays abroad. Additionally you might want to get a letter from your nurse that details the equipment you would need to take with you.  

Prepare your travel kit

A good rule of thumb for your travel kit is to figure out what you would normally use and then double it. It’s far better to have too much and not need it than need it and not have enough.

Your travel kit should contain:

  • Spare appliances
  • Any skin preparation products you normally use
  • A bottle of water for cleansing
  • Kitchen roll/wipes
  • A small plastic bowl
  • Some small disposable bags
  • Baby/hand wipes

Always take your travel kit on the plane with you to avoid disaster should your luggage become lost.

It’s worth noting that if you are flying your bag may become slightly inflated due to the change in cabin pressure. This is nothing to worry about and it should be fine as long as there’s a filter on the bag. You can minimise this by watching your diet closely for a few days before your trip and avoiding fizzy drinks during it.

Best practice on the beach or in a pool

Swimwear can be a problem that you’re probably highly aware of. There are a few companies, such as White Rose Collection, who make swimwear that can cover the appliance. If you’re self conscious, then costumes with patterns can help to disguise the outline of your appliance – which should be emptied before you enter the pool though.

The hot weather combined with frequent dips in the pool or sea can affect the adhesion of your appliance, which means it needs to be changed more often. This is another reason it’s advisable to take more accessories than you usually need at home.

For children and babies who have a pull through and are not toilet trained you may need to obtain a special nappy reusable swimming costume. Most public swimming pools will not allow a baby in the pool with a nappy on.

Increase your fluid intake in hot weather to avoid becoming dehydrated and ensure you’re careful to replace all salts and minerals as diligently as possible. If the country you are in is known to have an unreliable water supply then it’s best to stick to bottled water and avoid ice as much as possible.

Obtaining local support for stoma care

If your holiday or travel plans are within the UK it may be possible for your stoma nurse to connect with with a colleague in the area who can help. If you’re planning to be away for some time it may even be possible to have your supplies delivered directly. The following letter template is a sample of one that it may be prudent to obtain before travelling:

__________________ has a condition that requires a colostomy/ileostomy/urostomy. This is an opening on the surface of the abdomen from the large/small intestine, which allows the body to eliminate faeces/urine because __________________ is unable to do so normally. The opening or stoma is covered by a pouch (appliance) that serves as a container for waste until it can be emptied. The enclosed is a list of equipment that is needed by __________________ to change the appliance when necessary. For further information please contact __________________.

For further advice on travelling or to discuss your personal needs in more detail, please feel free to contact us. Call on 01604 586 529 and someone will be happy to help.

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