Dehydration is a huge concern to people following the removal of the large bowel, whether it is for an ileostomy stoma or JPouch as in my case.
The colon is responsible for reabsorbing large amounts of liquid that are passed on from the stomach to the small intestine. When the colon is removed output is higher and contains much of the essential liquids your body needs to function. It can be inefficient in maintaining levels of electrolytes and minerals that are needed and dehydration is a serious issue.
At first when I had my colon removed I assumed I needed to take in more liquid, mainly water to hydrate. This is not so..its not about the quantity but the quality of what you drink that can keep you well.
I tend to drink 2L of general drinks a day (tea, herbal tea, flat coke and flavoured juice) however, if I am feeling any of the side effects of dehydration. I will use a hydration solution as described later on, especially if i have had alcohol as it’s great for reducing hang overs, which incidentally seem much harder to shift now i have no colon than before!
Typically I will use a solution 4-5 times a week, maybe more in very hot weather if i am sweating excessively or have a temperature/ sickness or unusually high output.
More than half your body weight is made up of water and it’s necessary for every cell and organ in our body to function properly. Water helps in maintaining body temperature, keeping the blood flowing through your body, lubricating joints and removing waste.
The intestines actually work with the kidneys to control the level of fluids in the body. The intestines work to absorb water and salt and the kidneys control what is lost through urine. So when fluid is lost due to diarrhea, the kidneys may have difficulty balancing the salt and water, therefore you need to replace more than just water to stay hydrated.
Being dehydrated is a serious risk to your general health, it can cause dizziness, dry mouth, little or no urination, concentrated dark urine, weight loss, hoarse voice, acne sunken eyes, insomnia and energy loss. Feeling lethargic, achey and stiff seem to be the symptoms that people don’t associate with dehydration particularly when they suffer IBD as it could also indicate active disease. If you are suffering it is vital to get checked out.
So how can we avoid it? As I said before one thing I have learnt is that the answer is not to drink more, but drink wiser! There are many solutions available that help which are usually targetted for Diareaah and sickness such as dioralyte, my favourite is a simple solvable tablet sold under the label O.R.S - Oral Hydration Solution, it includes electrolytes, glucose and minerals. It comes in various flavours, lemon being my favourite and is available in most chemist and supermarkets, its more palatable than dioralyte. The most effective solution is apparently St MArks Oral hydration Solution, it has been developed by bowel disease consultants and experts to tackle the problem with minimal cost.
The recipe for St Marks solution follows and whilst I have not tried it personally as I’ve not needed it, it comes highly recommended, I have also included the technical explanation they give.
If you feel you are suffering dehydration, seek qualified medical advice, this is my experience and my interpretation of the issue, I am not qualified as a medical practitioner, just a sufferer!