If you have a stoma (opening on your tummy), such as a urostomy, colostomy, or an ileostomy, you will need to think about certain things before you travel. People with an opening in their windpipe to breathe through (tracheostomy) will also have to prepare before going away.
Having a stoma doesn’t have to stop you from travelling, but you may need to plan your trip more carefully.
Your stoma nurse can give you advice about issues such as:
- your diet while you are abroad
- activities like swimming
- how high temperatures can affect the glue used to secure the stoma bags.
If you have a urostomy, colostomy, an ileostomy or a tracheostomy, there are specialist organisations that can give you information specific to your condition.
Having a stoma should not stop you from travelling, but you may need to plan your trip more carefully. It is important to make sure you have enough stoma supplies with you and that they are spread between all items of your luggage.
It helps to take more than you may need, in case you need to change your appliance more often than usual or you are away for longer than planned. This is especially important if you are going somewhere with a hot climate.
Some stoma suppliers will deliver abroad. It is helpful to check whether your supplier offers this service. You should store stoma bags in a cool place, away from direct sunlight.
Colostomy and ileostomy
If you have had a colostomy or an ileostomy, it is important to be careful about what you eat the day before you travel.
Avoid spicy foods, fizzy drinks, alcohol and foods that cause wind. If you are travelling on a plane, the changes in air pressure may cause increased wind in the stoma bag. It may help to add an extra flatus filter, which helps wind to escape.
Your GP or stoma nurse can give you advice on medicines you can take if you have diarrhoea, for example anti-diarrhoea tablets (such as loperamide) and rehydration powders (such as Dioralyte®). These can be bought in a chemist or prescribed by your GP. If the diarrhoea is severe or continues for more than 48 hours, it is important to see a doctor.
Insurance and travel certificates
A travel certificate includes details of your condition so you do not have to explain it to travel officials, including airport security staff. The certificate will include your name, address and passport number, and it will be signed by your doctor.
People with ileostomies can get a travel certificate by contacting IA (The Ileostomy and Internal Pouch Support Group). You can ask for translated certificates in a variety of languages. The Colostomy Association and Urostomy Association can also provide travel certificates in many different languages. Your stoma care nurse should also be able to give you a travel certificate.
These support organisations can give you advice on travel insurance to make sure you are properly covered for your condition.