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Expert guidance on living with a stoma whilst staying hydrated and maintaining a healthy diet

How much fluid is enough?

Most people need ~6-8 cups (~1.8-2.4L or 3-4 pints) of fluid, or 30-35mls of fluid per kilogram of body weight per day. For those who lose excess fluid, either through sweating or with watery stools e.g. jejunostomies and ileostomies, extra fluid is needed to replace these losses. People with an ileostomy may pass between 500-1500ml of loose stool a day, as well as losing electrolytes like sodium, potassium and possibly magnesium. If you have higher fluid losses than the average person, it’s best to drink the recommended 6-8 cups of fluid a day plus choose saltier foods and hydrating foods.

Occasionally when someone has loose bowel movements, drinking more fluid can make them more dehydrated. If the bowels are emptying too quickly, there is not enough time to optimally absorb fluid as well as electrolytes like sodium and potassium. Losing electrolytes too quickly can cause imbalances in the blood, triggering problems like low blood pressure, muscle cramps or more dangerous issues e.g. an irregular heart rhythm. If you’re passing large volumes of watery stools (over 1.5L/3 pints per day) then drinking more may not help and it’s best to speak with your Doctor or Specialist Nurse.

The average 70kg man (~11 stone) needs:
~2.1 – 2.5L a day, that’s 4-5 standard water bottles or 4.5 pint glasses

The average 60kg woman (~9 ½ stone) needs:
~1.8 - 2.1L a day, that’s 3-4 standard water bottles or 3-4 pint glasses