Whether you or a loved one has an ostomy, one thing is certain, there is a lot to learn. It can be confusing to say the least when you first start caring for your ostomy. Your nurses and doctors will be using terms you may have never heard before. They may reference things you can’t even picture because you have never seen them before. I have listed out some very basic ostomy terms to get you familiar with some of the supplies. Be patient with yourself and never be afraid to ask questions. These are just a few of the terms you will hear and there are many others. United Ostomy Association of America has a great guide for new ostomates that I highly recommend.
Pouching System: Includes the skin barrier and the pouch. Options are a one-piece ostomy system or a two-piece ostomy system. Colostomy, ileostomy, and urostomy all require a pouching system.
Ostomy Pouch: Collects output from your stoma and is worn on the side of the body. Pouches are available in drainable or closed. A one piece ostomy pouch will have the skin barrier as a part of the unit. A two piece ostomy pouch will not have the skin barrier connected and you will need to buy the skin barrier separately. Also known as an ostomy bag.
Skin Barrier: The part of the ostomy pouching system that fits directly around the stoma. Protects the skin from output while holding the ostomy pouch in place. Skin barriers are also called wafers or flanges.
Convex Skin Barrier: Used for flush, flat, or retracted stomas to help the stoma empty into the ostomy pouch by pressing the peristomal skin down and allowing the stoma to reach the inside of the pouch effectively. Convex barriers or inserts curve like a bell and can help uneven skin form a complete seal with the ostomy pouch
Filter: Allows gas to escape from the pouch and helps to absorb odor. Available in a variety of styles.
Stoma Caps: Small closed pouches that can be worn briefly while showering or during intimate moments. Stoma caps are not meant to replace your normal everyday ostomy pouch.
Wear Time: How long you can wear your pouching system before it fails or needs to be changed. Wear times vary between people and circumstances such as, heavy activity, hot weather, etc. Wear times should be fairly consistent for each individual person. The average is 3 to 5 days and it is not recommended that you exceed 7 days.