Dealing with winter colds with an ostomy

Dealing with winter colds with an ostomy

Winter brings about many changes, some welcome, some not so much. I love nothing more than lighting every candle in the house, my twinkly tree on, the dark nights and watching GoggleBox on the telly under a throw with the family. But what does it mean for us ostomates? As we all know, we are all so different in the reason why we got a ticket to the club, and what impact that has on our wider health. For some the arrival of Winter may not change that much, for others it can present the need to adapt and tweak a few different things.  

Peristomal skin

In the colder months your skin may become dryer which is typically when we start to use more hand cream and moisturiser, where of course over the counter solutions is not an option when peristomal skin is concerned. Using a barrier film with Vitamin E in the formulation could help with this. Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that works as an antioxidant to maintain the health and condition of your skin. I use one all year round and find my skin stays as soft as a baby’s bottom! It may be time during the colder months if you start getting mild irritation to ask your stoma nurse if you should change to formulations with Vitamin E in. Make sure you check with your stoma nurse first as I did. I have always used them with my little ones' stoma too, as having one from a few weeks old meant new skin that was very sensitive to adhesive needing a stoma bag so soon after birth. It is something I have stuck with all year around and won’t be changing unless there is a reason to do so.


In the colder weather more fibre and meals of warmth including roasts, stews, soups and vegetables may find themselves on the dinner table more often. For some this doesn’t make a difference and they tolerate as much fibre as the next person with or without a stoma. For others (including myself) it's a sure fire way into the danger zone! Im talking blockages, potential leaks caused, or higher output than normal. Keep a track of what you are eating if you find a change in your toilet habits so it is easier to identify what the cause is to be able to eliminate it. If you are making a bolognese and want to have lots of extra vegetables to bulk it up and make it go further, mix it in a blender so it is easier to digest. If you do this with dishes where you need to make a sauce or stock, you can get the extra nutrients and minerals in without the added risk of a blockage.  


Coughs and colds are extremely common this time of year. If you have a job which requires you to use your voice a lot (as I found when I was teaching), I would eat cough sweets like they were going out of fashion. They were an instant fix and helped me get on with my job. On most products such as this there is a disclaimer to say if used in excess they may cause a laxative effect. Pre-stoma life this wasn't much of a concern, but now it's something I make sure I take seriously. No one wants an ileostomy with the risk of a laxative effect - I don’t need to tell you why! Ensure you read the small print in the leaflets included with medicine over the counter. This will tell you who is most vulnerable to common side effects. Your GP when prescribing medication should see on your notes that you have an ostomy and not prescribe you something that would cause any issues. Despite this, I always make a point of reminding them that I have one if it is an appointment not associated with my stoma, and I have been in a situation where they appear to have not read my notes in the past!


With an ileostomy, hydration is key for me. I need to actively ensure I am drinking little and often or the headaches set in and I start to feel out of sorts. I have bought a smart watch from Amazon linked here which has a reminder for having a drink. You can set it to how often you would like and it vibrates and shows you a cup of water to tell you to hydrate. I set mine for every hour and have noticed a big difference. It's scary to think how little you drink when you are living at 100mph, and if you are like me and remember in a few hours you haven’t stopped to do so, it can be difficult clawing hydration back having got so behind. Bottles with lines and reminders to drink are great but I still don't stop to do it. This little gadget has been a game changer. Find a prompt that works for you and keep drinking. I love tea and coffee and the change in temperature makes me have a lot more hot drinks than during the warmer months. I make sure I have no more than 1 caffeine drink a day as they seem to increase my output. For the rest of the day it's decaf all the way. I made the switch pretty soon after surgery and haven't looked back. Some describe terrible headaches when doing so but I can't say I experienced any. 

 Until next time, Rach x

Disclaimer: As always, this post is from our blogger, Rachel's, experience of living with an ostomy & Hirschsprung's Disease & from what she has researched. Nothing in our blog posts should be taken as medical advice. It's always best to consult a medical professional if you have queries or concerns.

Share to support a loved one

Share this post via the e-mail button above by & copying in the web link at the top of this page for them to read! 

You can also share this article via our buttons under "tags" below.

Other reads by Rachel

My 2nd stomaversary: What I have learned

Carers Awareness Week

Wedding day support wear

What blog posts would you like to see?

We are always looking for new topics to write about! If you have any ostomy life questions you'd like answering or any subjects you'd like us to address, please comment below or email us at

Join our support network

Shop with us

Link to Comfizz' Shop




Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published