Ileostomy, colostomy and stoma support

For people having an ileostomy or colostomy or living with a stoma. Support each other and discuss things like upper and lower bowel contents, bag recommendations, managing a stoma and foods to avoid.

Travelling with an 'ostomy'

No. of entries: 8 | Posted on 6 Jun 2011 1:04 PM

Travelling with an 'ostomy'

  • Please post your questions and answers about travelling with an 'ostomy' here.

  • hi, i have just returned from a lovely 10 day holiday to menorca, i was very nervous about  flying for the first time since  my bowel resection last july.

    I have a very active ileostomy and ensured that i emptied the pouch just prior to boarding, it did inflate once airborne but only very slightly, 1 trip to the bathroom to release the air did the trick. Take loperamide starting at least 6 hours prior to the flight and all will be well, a small meal of pasta before the flight also helped.  I carried all pouches, creams pastes etc along with medicines in the hand luggage so i wasnt caught short incase of any lost luggage. i also took with me a medical certificate completed and signed by my gp to show at airport security .

    all in all the whole experience was absolutly fine and much easier than id imagined, im even looking at booking anotha holiday for august time, fingers crossed with the next ct scan x


  • Hi, amandap, thanks for posting this; it's given me great hope as today I've had 3 leaks and am going mad.  I had my op and ileostomy (Gucci) fitted on 11May and have had only 2 or 3 leaky days, however, as I am housebound having a shop on site, which my hubby and I run, I am not inconvenienced over much.  

    My stoma nurses are really helpful and when they fit my bag, it can last up to 4 days.  This is not common, I hasten to add, just a couple of times when I was really sore around the stoma and they wanted it to stay in place as, I understand, the flange has a medicated surface , which helps healing.  I obviously change the bag whenever I have a leak as I know the bag contents are really 'corrosive' to the skin.

    I was really physical - going to the gym 5 times a week - prior to my diagnosis, but have stopped since.  I was looking forward to swimming, but have little confidence in that in event of leaks.  I know the books tell you you don't have to let the bags control you, but it doesn't feel like that at present. I did notice that one of the forum chaps swims without any problems, so that, too was really helpful. n.b. I am being careful with my diet, so I dont' think that's the problem, and I've found the OstoFIX Forty security frames (plasters) really helpful.

    I am usually very positive, so apologies for all the whingeing...I guess I might be excused as I am 'negotiating' the cancer regime in a few weeks time.  Have had that 14 years ago with breast cancer, so know what that was about.  Am told this won't be as aggressive as before.

    I would like to get more confidence with my bag changing and know I can always ask my lovely stoma nurses, but at the end of the day it's always us at the 'flowing' end - which is something else I didn't realise when you are trying to change and get cleaned up.  

    Apologies for graphic detail - I just know- it helps to have one duffer around as it makes others feel better...

  • New to this and put my question on the wrong place I think... don't know how to move it but its in the hints and tips one if you want to read the whole thing...

    basically its about flying with a colostomy bag... does it blow up? Can you use a sealed one or is it better to have an opening one? Any hints?


    Little MY

  • Hi Little MY,

    I haven't flown with a stoma yet but I recently went to a stoma care meeting where this was one of the topics presented by one of the stoma care nurses.

    One thing I hadn't heard of before was the medical certificate that you can get from one of the companies (eg Fittleworth who do the home deliveries, and I think the Colostomy Association may do them too). It is basically a small card that your GP or stoma care nurse signs to say (in several languagues) that if security at the airport want to search you, you have the right to ask for a medical person to be present. Also, to say that you are carrying essential medical supplies.

    Also, they covered a few useful reminders: cut all your bags before flying as you can't take scissors in your hand luggage. Carry plenty of supplies in both hand luggage and hold baggage in case anything goes missing. Some of the delivery companies have arrangements to supply overseas in an emergency so worth taking details.

    One lady talked of avoiding eating and drinking too much before flying and also taking loperamide but she had an ileostomy I think. I suspect that the amount of wind and ballooning could be a personal thing and may depend on usual activity. Could be worth discussing with your stoma care nurse too?

    Good luck!


  • Hi Eleanor,

    Thanks so much for such a wealth of information! I will ask Fittleworths when I order and good one about the scissors!!

    I live in a rural area and my local hospital and stoma nurse are not that local! She's very nice but rather dippy so forgets to phone back etc and its hard to see or phone her as she has such a big area to cover... So far, she hasn't been able to answer any of my quesitons with anything practical- such as can  I swim? Her response was I think so, I know a man who does... no advice etc. Not complaining, just explaining why I'm asking here. The cancer hospital is fantastic and I have got by with trial and error on most things but didn't fancy just seeing if my bag exploded with the cabin pressure or not!!

    Actually, that's another one.. any hints for swimming? Should have healed enough soon to maybe try again....

    Just saw that you finished your chemo! Fantastic news! Hope you are not feeling too rotten after it...

    Little My

  • Hi Little My,

    I went swimming for the first time just over two months after my surgery. The first time I went, I tried the Conseal colostomy plug. If you have an end colostomy and you don't have too much out put I'm guessing this is suitable for you. If this isn't too much information (!) it inserts into your stoma a little bit like a tampon and holds back your poo for a couple of hours or more depending on your bowel habits. I was given a couple of samples to try by my stoma nurse but you can also get them on prescription. May take a couple of tries to make sure you have inserted it OK - I managed fine first time and then second time realised it wasn't quite right. Fortunately stoma not active at the time! Nurse did offer to show me first time, but I was in a hurry to get going (had a girls spa night away booked) so didn't wait for an appointment.

    Before I went I was a bit concerned I might feel self conscious in my cossie and had seen pictures on line of specialist swim wear. I tried on my costume at home before going and decided it was fine - no need to 'splash' out on any fancy swim wear just yet.

    Since the first time of swimming with the plug, I have actually just gone with a normal bag. The position of my stoma means that the bags I'm using don't show below the leg line. 

    If you have had problems with dry skin caused by chemo or radiotherapy swimming could make it worse, but I have been a couple of times during my chemo and just slapped on the E45 afterwards which has been fine. (Swimming is not really recommended if your immune system is low so I perhaps shouldn't be letting on that I've been swimming during treatment!)

    Anyway, I think if you feel ready to try it then go for it!

    Good luck,



  • Hi Eleanor,

    Thanks! I have a loop colostomy so not sure if a plug would work...would I need 2?? Might be a bit much!  I think I would be ok with the bag on- I guess it doesn't come unstuck then? I'm one of those people who is not that shy about stuff so not too bothered about it showing a little bit under my cozzie... I heard there were things called swimming caps?? like little tiny bags or something- ever heard of them? Do you just change the bag afterwards or can you dry if off and keep it on? When in Sweden I swim (or  muck about ) in the sea about 5 times a day so thats a lot of bags to change if you have to do it each time....!

    Because I'm not very tall, I use the mini size bags so they are not hanging half way down my leg (!) so think it would fit under my cossie- haven't tried yet.... Had a look at  some swimwear but all a bit sparkly for me- I prefer a tankini with shorts to hide my thighs normally (though one good side effect of the radiation burns is that a lot of my stretch marks on my legs have gone... if it wasn't for the funny skin colour etc I might try a bikini (esp now I've lost weight too! ) though it might rub as some bits are still a bit sensitive... I think the chlorine would irritate my skin in a pool, but I'm thinking of swimming in the sea in Sweden (parents live on a beach there) so I think the salt water will be healing if anything....

    Been about 2 1/2 months since op so reading you, might dare this weekend- going to see my son who lives by a lake in Devon and if its hot might not be able to resist jumping in- better go and see if the cozzie still fits ha ha (nearly 2 stone lighter than last I wore it)

    Won't tell anyone about you swimming when having chemo if you don't tell anyone about me driving after my op!!

    Nice to find a friend - anal it seems is a rather rare and exclusive place to be...

    Little My

    ps  If we talk in private I'll use my name- but I'm a teacher and my kids love to try and find info about us on the net - my name is unusual so easily spotted and I don't really think I want them seeing all this!!!!