The Digestive System
Our digestive system plays a vital role in keeping our bodies healthy. We eat and drink throughout the day to keep ourselves from feeling hungry or thirsty, but to be of any benefit to our body, this food and drink needs to be properly digested. Digestive juices containing enzymes break down what we have consumed and then each different part is used in different ways.
Carbohydrates in our diet are broken down into glucose, which is used to give us energy. Proteins help in the production of new cells, nutrients from your food are absorbed into your blood stream and fats are processed in the body to provide further energy. Fibre is the most indigestible food product, but is vital for carrying other foods through the digestive system.
Once our digestive system has absorbed the goodness from our food any waste product is passed, along with the fibrous items in our diet through to our anus, where it is discharged. Equally our kidneys work hard to rid the body of toxins in liquid form through the urethra. All this is happening without us needing to think about it or take action and it helps our bodies to stay healthy.
Issues with our Digestive System
The time when we do notice what is going on is when we have a problem with our digestive system. This could be a relatively minor and temporary issue, such as constipation or diarrhoea. These issues can cause pain and considerable discomfort. It can usually be remedied by drinking plenty of water to keep hydrated, controlling your diet for a few days or purchasing off the shelf medication.
There are times when our digestive system may be more seriously affected. This could be through disease or as the results of an accident. At these times it may be necessary for doctors to remove part of the large or small intestine in order to maximise your health and quality of life. Despite the need for surgery, our bodies can’t function without an effective digestive process, so a solution needs to be sought.
An Ostomy Could be the Solution
Typically in this situation, the medical team would advise on a form of surgery known as an ostomy. An ostomy involves removing the damaged part of the digestive system and then creating a new opening in the body. The healthy part of the large or small intestine is attached. This opening is known as a stoma and it is through this stoma that urine or faeces will now pass, allowing your body to continue its normal breakdown and absorption of food and nutrients.
There are many different types of ostomy, including colostomy and ileostomy. Being informed by medical staff that you need this surgery may be shocking. It may leave you with concerns about how you will continue with your daily routine with a stoma, but medical teams and support groups can answer these questions. Despite any concerns, medical teams wouldn’t recommend this operation if it wasn’t going to improve or even save a life.
After your body has had time to recover post operation, patients are able to return to almost everything that they enjoyed prior to the ostomy. Care routines, including how to clean and look after the stoma, where to buy medical supplies and which activities are fine to resume will all be given by the medical care team.
The stoma does not have the nerve endings needed to feel when your body needs to get rid of waste. This can be disconcerting initially, but you will soon learn your body’s normal routine and can adapt your daily routine to make it work. The stoma is also unable to feel pain, so it is important that you follow ostomy care routines and use the right medical supplies to keep your body healthy.
Published: 29th September 2014