A colostomy is a surgical procedure where a portion of the colon (large intestine) is brought to the surface of the abdomen creating an opening called a stoma. Through this opening, all bodily waste or digestive waste expels out of the body. So to collect this bodily waste, a colostomy bag is attached to the stoma. Conditions such as diverticulitis, Crohn’s disease, or colorectal cancer are the major reasons for colostomy. Many ostomates wonder if they have to compromise their physical activities like swimming, cycling, etc.
So the good news is, that ostomates with colostomy bags can live their life with full freedom. They can swim fearlessly with a colostomy bag. Not only this, they can actively participate in various physical activities.
The advancement in medical technology and the availability of specialized colostomy supplies have empowered individuals with colostomy bags to lead an active and fulfilling life.
COLOSTOMY AND ITS CHALLENGES
Before digging out whether swimming with a colostomy bag is an appropriate choice or not, it is quintessential for ostomates to realize and understand the challenges that they would have to deal with. One of the important concerns is to ensure that the colostomy bag remains sealed and secure to prevent leakage and contamination. The majority of colostomy bags are designed to be water resistant and should adhere well to the skin. However, it has been observed that prolonged exposure to water while swimming can weaken the adhesiveness of the bag, which affects the effectiveness of the bag.
Secondly, Swimming has been strictly forbidden in the first six weeks after stoma surgery. The reason is, that your body is in recovery mode and your incision wound and stoma have to be kept dry for perfect healing.
CAN YOU STILL SWIM WITH A COLOSTOMY BAG?
Absolutely yes you can.
Without any single doubt, an ostomate has full freedom to embrace life to the fullest. Having a colostomy should not stop you from activities like swimming or sitting in the hot bathtub.
Remember, these colostomy bags are made up of waterproof material and they are leakproof and should be tightly secure with stoma. This way, water will not get into the bag. Here are some crucial steps to take before heading into the water:
Talk to your health care professional:
Before engaging in any water-related activities, consult your healthcare professional, particularly your ostomy nurse or surgeon. Keeping in mind your specific situation they will give you advice and will resolve any concerns that you may have regarding swimming with an ostomy pouch.
Choose the appropriate ostomy supplies:
Though all colostomy bags are waterproof, if you are a regular swimmer then you should select an ostomy bag that is specifically designed for water activities. While purchasing any colostomy bag, just make sure that its adhesive should be strong enough to withstand water pressure.
Re-check the seal of the colostomy bag:
Before jumping into the water, just make sure that your colostomy bag is securely sealed and adheres to the skin. It’s crucial to have a good seal to prevent water from entering the bag, which can cause the adhesive to weaken and potentially lead to leakage.
Use stoma Cap or Plug:
For swimming purposes, manufacturers have designed special stoma caps or plugs that give an added layer of protection to your stoma by maintaining a secure seal.
Choose Right swimwear
Choose swimwear that provides adequate support and coverage for your colostomy bag. Some swimwear options come with built-in pockets or panels to hold the bag securely in place, allowing you to swim with confidence.
TIPS FOR WORRY-FREE SWIMMING WITH A COLOSTOMY BAG
Monitor the seal:
Do check your seal regularly while swimming. If you feel any loosening or leakage, immediately exit the water and address the issue promptly
Empty the bag:
Before you dive into the water, for the safe side, empty your colostomy bag.
Put off Eating:
Although it’s quite normal to swim with a colostomy bag, if you are concerned with the output, then we will advise you to stop eating 3 hours before swimming.
Apply new wafer:
Before swimming, apply a new wafer just 12 hours before swimming. Or if you have spontaneously made a plan for swimming then apply a new wafer at least 1 hour before swimming.
Check the need for a filter cover:
Must check if your bag needs a filter cover on top or not. Filter covers are stickers in a circle shape that fits over the filter at the top of your bag. These stickers come with the colostomy bag and they prevent any water from peeping into the bag.
Be Mindful of Water Activities
Avoid strenuous water activities that may put excessive pressure on the colostomy bag, such as diving or intense water sports. Opt for gentle swimming and floating to reduce the risk of damaging the seal.
SWIMWEAR FOR OSTOMATES SWIMMERS
Just as you used to wear a swimsuit earlier before colostomy surgery, you can still enjoy wearing that swimsuit with colostomy. It wouldn’t make any difference. Just make sure that the bag is securely sealed before diving into the water.
You have numerous options for swimsuits like you used to have before. You can enjoy hassle-free swimming in one-piece bathing suits as they hold the bag securely in one place. Whereas, a two-piece bathing suit is also a great option
There are specially designed high-waisted swim trunks and shorts for ostomates that have a dedicated pouch to hold the bag securely in one place.
The bottom line is, that you have numerous options but the best option would be the one that makes you feel comfortable and relaxed. Remember, an appropriate dress would be one that securely keeps your colostomy bag in one place while swimming.
Swimming with colostomy is possible but with necessary precautions and appropriate colostomy supplies. Always consult your healthcare provider before starting any swimming or water-related activity as he will advise you appropriately based on your situation. Remember, by following preparatory steps and tips before going swimming you can confidently participate in swimming promoting a healthy and active lifestyle.