Ileostomy Output | Ask Laura

Laura Cox, LPC
Ostomy Lifestyle Specialist | Shield HealthCare
12/28/15  3:16 PM PST
Ileostomy Output

Want to know more about how to slow ileostomy output while sleeping?

Q: Hello Laura,

My friend had her surgery four weeks ago to form an ileostomy and she is really in a bind. I know the ileostomy output cannot be controlled, but she is having to empty her pouch starting at 2:00 am, then every two hours throughout the night. She has not had a complete night of sleep since she has to empty her bag every two hours. Is there anything you can suggest? Is there a bigger bag?

Thank you for your consideration,

A: Hi Consuelo,

I’m sorry to hear your friend has been having trouble sleeping due to her ileostomy output.

For her sleeping issue, I would have her hydrate and eat very well up until about two or three hours before she goes to bed. Then, for about two hours before before bed I would suggest that she does not eat or drink anything. This will definitely slow down her bowel movements throughout the night. Also, she can ask her doctor if she can take an anti-diarrheal (to further slowdown her bowels). As her body readjusts to her new anatomy, hopefully her output will slow down. The first four or five months after surgery I had to get up three times a night, now I get up only once per night. Your body actually learns to adjust!

Also, there are bigger pouches available. They are called “night drainage bags” and are much larger than a normal sized pouch. Here’s one example from Coloplast.

You can also watch my video with tips about sleeping well when you have a stoma here.

I hope everything goes well for your friend and that you’re both happy and healthy!


You can find more articles about how to live well with an ostomy here:

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  1. Hi Laura,
    I’m a UC patient and second time round with a temporary ileostomy after having complications following surgery (6 weeks ago) to hitch up my prolapsing j pouch (I’m due to be reconnected Feb/Mar’16).
    I’m finally feeling good enough to exercise (& have my surgeon’s okay) and was wondering what type of exercises I could do, especially to strengthen my abs and back as I’m a little scared of causing more problems.
    Thanks heaps,

  2. I had surgery in Sept. And things went ok. Now I am having a lot of leaks ans raw skin around the stoma. I am not sure what changed. I think it may be that I started Chemo. It seems to be worse after Chemo. I go every three weeks. Have you heard Of this before and any suggestions on how to handle it?

    1. Hi Judith,
      I’m sorry to hear you’re having issues with leakage. I have heard the Chemo can change the chemistry of your skin and that some products that used to work well for you may not work as well now. I would suggest you make an appointment with your WOC Nurse and discuss what other products you can try to see what works best with your skin while on chemotherapy. You can order samples via the different manufacturers if you’d like to experiment. Has your stoma changed size or appearance at all?
      I hope this message finds you well!

  3. I’ve been in your froends place. still am but hetes what I do.
    I eat things such as peanuts to thicken my wasye outs, peanuts, cookies, pretzels etc. before 6 pm.
    i dont eat anything after 6 pm not even a late supper.
    i am now sleeping most of the night

  4. and dont need to het up d u ring the night now.
    i also put medical tape along the barrier sodes to hold the barrier and pouch on my stomach.
    ypur friend should try all of these.
    I’ve had mine for a year and a half now

  5. I had my ileostomy in 2016, and I feel very well, my quality of life has surely improved
    I m still so afraid of my ostomy will leak and cause my clothes to become soiled
    It has only happened X1 but I,m so afraid this will happen. This would be so embarrassing .
    Can you give me give me any tips to prevent this?
    Thank you

    1. Hi Anne! That is, unfortunately, a valid fear. We have a couple of clips from our various webinars that I can recommend. First up, a recent one presented by Joy, a great WOCN. She talks about creating a good seal to prevent leaks: The other one is from Laura Cox, and she discusses preventing leaks (from the perspective of an ostomate): In terms of what we can recommend to have on hand in case you do have a leak, we suggest adding a very thin t-shirt and pair of pants (like yoga pants) to your emergency ostomy kit, which you should keep near you at all times (in a purse, backpack, work desk drawer or car, as long as the car doesn’t get too hot). Laura’s had her ostomy since 2011 and she still gets the occasional leak. It can be really hard to mentally deal with (Laura talks about the experience here:, but being prepared and having a great pouching system can help. We hope that helps and please let us know if you have any other questions! -Aimee, Shield HealthCare

  6. I had my illeostomy in 2009. I try not to eat anything much after 8pm and can sometimes go all night without waking to empty.
    I used to get up twice at the beginning but over years it has reduced.

  7. My ileostomy has been around for almost 4 years now, and I’ve experimented with meds and diet as advised in opposition by different doctors.

    So I think some comments from those experienced can help us all.

    Which of these do you find better?
    Benefiber vs Psyllium fiber (Metamucil)?


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