Alcohol And An Ileostomy – Things To Think About If You’re Drinking With A Stoma

Alcohol And An Ileostomy – Things To Think About If You’Re Drinking With A Stoma

Congratulations! You have a stoma…you are now officially a drinking lightweight!

No matter what your drinking ability was like before you had your stoma - even if you were Jägermeister Champion 2014 - it will now be like drinking on an empty stomach unless you prepare your digestive tract for the festivities. You’re probably thinking, “Well, doh! I’ll just have something to eat before I have a glass of Pimms in the pub garden”. Sadly it doesn’t work like that. But never fear; you can still raise a glass at your Nan’s 80th without the worry that you might be flashing your knickers the next minute.

It’s all in the preparation

You need to ready yourself in a very similar way to how you prepare your body for bag changing without your stoma squirting everywhere; first, you need to slow down your stoma’s output.

This is best done with a handful of jelly babies, marshmallows or toffees. Then eat a meal as usual. The chewy sweets basically cause a very temporary blockage that also contains your last meal – thus, something to soak up the alcohol.

Drink, drink, drink…WATER

Above everything, though, you need to remember to keep yourself well hydrated. Ostomates have to make a special effort not to get dehydrated, especially in the hot summer months. Alcohol is a diuretic (it promotes the production of urine) so it doesn’t count towards topping up your hydration levels – it actually has the opposite effect. I get around this by having a glass of water with every alcoholic drink, which I sip inbetween rounds.

It doesn’t stop there – changing tastes and the morning after…

Strangely, I’ve also found that my tastes in alcohol have changed since I got my stoma, as have the hangover effects it has on me the morning after I’ve been drinking. Yeasty drinks like beer and highly carbonated beverages will also cause stoma bag ballooning.

Don’t forget – Drink Responsibly

Having a stoma can make you a 'lightweight' when it comes to drinking alcohol

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by Michelle Williams

Michelle Williams

About the author

My name is Michelle; I live in Kent with my husband and son. I have a permanent ileostomy as a result of Ulcerative Colitis. You can follow me on twitter.

Recent Comments

  • kath holland

    hi Michelle, I read your blog re: alcohol with interest. I've a permanent (high output) iliostomy too. I find I can only drink one glass of wine in any one period otherwise I want to go straight home and sleep! I enjoy dry cider which isn't as strong as wine and doesn't have the same effect on me. Interestingly, I was told by my surgeons and cancer nurse to add a little fruit juice to plain water so that the fluid had something to 'work on' and not flush through me immediately. It seems to work for me! I tend to drink on a daily basis mainly tonic water with a dash of Rose's Lime juice. (I need to drink 3 litres of fluid a day as I also have CKD (Chronic Kidney Disease). Each day I include a 500ml bottle of SPORT lucozane to replace the electrolytes I lose. I am new to this blogging malarky so I hope this comes out right! Kath Holland

    • Smithe348

      Some genuinely great information, Glad I discovered this. Good teaching is onefourth preparation and threefourths theater. by Gail.

    • Smithd958

      That is some inspirational stuff. Never knew that opinions could be this varied. Be certain to keep writing.

  • Michelle Williams

    Hi Kathy Thanks for sharing your tips on staying hydrated, I read with great interest about adding fruit juice to water so that the 'bowel' has something to work on. I have water with squash at home but when I'm out I just have plain water and you're right water does go through much quicker. I'll be using your fruit juice trick from now on. Just out of interest have you tried Coconut water? Michelle

  • Linda

    I too have an ileostomy with a high output.Its now 3 months since I had my surgery.Still finding it difficult to eat and drink without everything going straight through.Thank got the tip water and juice,will give it ago.My poor husband like myself is sick of out diet ,he insists on having the same as me vegetables and fruit just seem impossible and I'm up empty my bag all night! Any suggestions ladies.

  • Michelle Williams

    I'm afraid Linda it's just a process of keep introducing food back into your diet. As your bowel recovers it will tolerate more and more. Have you tried porridge, I hadn't been able to tolerate it at all when I had UC but it was one of the few things I could stomach (pardon the pun) after my op. It might seem to go straight through to begin with because you are eating so much fruit and veg but it does contain fibre so will help bind you up. Don't panic, like I did when i first ate it again, when your out is white. Some foods just come out the same colour it goes in. Hope this helps.

  • Val

    My husband has had an illeostomi for over 30 years 5 years ago he had a heart operation. He is taking warfarin & other medication for his heart. Recently he has been drinking tonic water because of muscle spasms.At the end of August blood was coming out of his stoma. He,was admitted to hospital .Didn't do any tests as it stopped bleeding. So was sent home. Tonight (19thOct) blood was coming out of his stoma. He had a drink of tonic water at lunch time. Do you think that it is the tonic water that has caused this as when he was in hospital the Doctors didn' T seem to know what to do.

  • Val

    My husband has had an illeostomi for over 30 years 5 years ago he had a heart operation. He is taking warfarin & other medication for his heart. Recently he has been drinking tonic water because of muscle spasms.At the end of August blood was coming out of his stoma. He,was admitted to hospital .Didn't do any tests as it stopped bleeding. So was sent home. Tonight (19thOct) blood was coming out of his stoma. He had a drink of tonic water at lunch time. Do you think that it is the tonic water that has caused this as when he was in hospital the Doctors didn' T seem to know what to do.

  • Charlie

    Hey, i haven't had my Ileostomy bag for long, 7 weeks in face. I'm due to go out with some mates for Xmas next weekend, 2wgats the best sort of drink to have without any leaks or my bag going to a balloon ??

  • Gillian

    What's the best alcohol to drink while out without causing any damage......

  • Michele

    I've had my ileostomy for 6 years (complete colectomy with diverted j-pouch from UC). I definitely have to drink more water than the average Joe, but I am faaar from a lightweight. I can drink twice as much as a normal person before feeling and effects and recover much quicker. Pre drink I go for very carb heavy meals and separate liquids from meals by an hour or so.

  • baz t

    well I've read loads of comments etc about diet and other things to be honest I hate mine I am very recently out of surgery in fact 6 weeks ago and no I wasn't I'll or poorly before I was a healthy rugby player and got seriously injured in a tackle ended up nearly dieing ruptured my main bowell arterial ended up in intensive care critical care and life support machine I can't seem to get my s.....e bag tk work one day it's fine on display day it's thick one day I'm ill please help any advise will be greatly appreciated baz t xxx

  • Ambrj01

    Its definately a must to either eat and drink or eat some bulking food that slows output before you go and inc water in the round of drinks as this is not going to affect your output. Also remember as well as avoiding fizzy drinks for at least 10 mins in the glass to let the bubbles die down any drinks made from fruit and fruit juice itself will speed through so wine, gin, juices and juice with water type drinks will be gone quite quick if you dont prepare yourself good luck everyone we can still enjoy ourselves and surely should do so

  • nigel henry

    I have had my ileostomy for 20 months I feel great ... Problems ... I have put on weight like 40 lbs ! Why ...I drink red wine upto a bottle a day and the odd scotch or 3 I love to drink in the evening ... Cooking dinner ...I am unusual I am a Chef and dietician by trade but retired and just love to cook.... So MY problem 2018 I am doing Dry January day 13 and it been interesting Nope I have not given in wine and scotch free and I decided to go on a diet ! 1600 calories and I use My fitness pal! Its not a diet it makes you aware what you are eating...I am struggling to loose weight my calories are 1000 a day less maybe more.... No I don't miss the wine or scotch .... What I am missing not being able to lose weight ... 4 lbs maybe 13 days ! But the scales waver .... I walk 3 miles a day I exercise I eat ....! 1000 +calories less it should be falling off ... NO ! Ostimates are not so lucky.

  • john whiston

    I am undergoing bowel surgery on Monday and have been told I will have a permanent ileostomy, I am worried about how many hours I can go without emptying the bag as I play golf which takes 4 hours and travel 2 to 3 hours by car on a regular basis also can i still drink a couple of glasses of red wine with a meal?

  • Amy

    I'm a new ileostomy recipient (3 weeks)
    I can deal with the bag. I am however a drinker and started reading this thread because of so much red raw bleeding skin around my stoma. Wondered if I stopped drinking it would give me relief. Looks like no one here is in constant pain (from surrounding skin) from alcohol consumption. But hey fellow drinkers...any advice on this raw skin around my stoma? It's making me not want to do basic daily activities as simple as dishes...the bag isn't the problem...I just dont want the pain. PLEASE HELP.

  • Ali

    Hi Amy... I had my ileostomy only Aug last year and it works amazingly well, but I too suffer from raw skin around the stoma, this can come and go daily... usually worse when I get hot by exercising and sweat gets behind the bag, or when I drink. Not only am I an absolute lite weight now and get soooo drunk very quickly,it make me sore so seriously considering giving up the drink. But when sore I believe less is more, I don’t use cream or powder, clean stoma with the Ostoguard wipes with lavender oil in, dry and possibly pop on a little sting free barrier spray ... then I use a hollister Adapt slim ring and then the bag.... the next day I’m usually healed. Until the next time!!! Hope this helps... and since I’ve had this operation I now work in a hospital on the surgical ward with many stoma patients which I love.

  • Deborah

    Hi, I had to have emergency bowel surgery 12 weeks ago and ended up with an ileostomy. I am very active and like to drink. I play golf easily with the bag- I find that if I walk the course, the effluent stays pretty inactive and I'm ok emptying bag on the turn. I eat oatmeal with banannas in the morning and that keeps the effluent pretty solid throughout the round.

    I do find that if I drink red wine at night, my bag gets very watery and sometimes I leak. Will have to try just vodka and see if I get the same result!

    does anyone have any luck with vodka?

  • Richard

    Amy, I hope you have solved your skin problems by now but will share my experience just in case you have not and for others still suffering: I had my ileostomy in July 2017 and by mid-August of that year my peristomal skin was a mess (and not from leaks--my ostomy system has never leaked), including rawness, sores, eventually infection. Things are much better now, but it took many months to resolve. Antibiotics solved the infection (took Augmentin for close to two months), and a topical steroid helped the skin grow back (careful with those, however, as they also weaken the skin, paradoxically), but the real key has been to use Duoderm (and silver alginate dressing--I use Aquacell Ag but there are others) under that, directly on top of the sensitive areas (for me, 3-4 o'clock and 9 o'clock). I have not found that drinking has any affect on the skin; indeed I drank no alcohol at all from July 2017 until April 2018 as chemotherapy played out, and my worst problems were all in 2017). I wonder, however, why red wine runs out like mad, while beer (IPA fan mostly) seems to have little effect on output (#1, of course, as for any person). I have also found that not using stoma powder and Cavilon, even when the skin looks good during a change, leads to problems for me. Thus, every time, regardless of how the skin looks (and generally it is has been pretty good for me consistently since this past May), I use stoma powder (clean it off), then Cavilon, then Aquacell Ag and Duoderm on the two sensitive areas, then a Cera ring and Cera wafer, and finally the bag (two piece). It is a frickin' construction project, but any shortcuts in that routine seem inevitably to lead to skin problems by the next change. I am back on another chemo regime and so far the skin has held up fine with this routine, even though the drugs are known to cause peristomal skin flare ups. Good luck with your journey.

  • Richard


    One of my ostomy nurses recommended the banana trick, and it has worked very well for me. I eat one every night before going to bed, adding peanut butter if I plan to change the system the next morning. I also take a little peanut butter again (and a very small amount of Benefiber mixed into maybe 40 ml of soymilk) when I first wake up before showering and changing it. That seems to stem the flow long enough for a fairly "clean" change. Red wine indeed leads to very watery (winery?) output, and thus I usually stay up until it thickens again to avoid problems. With vodka, depends on what, if anything, it is mixed with--straight is less problematic than cranberry juice in my experience--already noted above that fruit juices can increase output.

  • Marquetta

    Hey im New to this ostomy thing ....but i was wanting to know if i drink a wine cooler or a mix drink what will happen?

  • Judi

    Thank you all for your experiences. It is so helpful. I stopped using the Cavilon and my skin around the stoma has become raw. I will go back to using it again today! I drink alcohol and have not noticed any big changes.

    I am still trying to learn which foods clog me up and cause pain and which foods will help with output. I like a more watery output. Any advice?

  • Amy

    Hi. I just received my ileostomy October 15. It is temporary. There have been several rather big issues. The first has to do with output. I cannot seem to get this diarrhea under control! Just when I think it is, here it comes again. I'm on Limotil and have this powder stuff I mix as well. I eat bananas. It's crazy. Because of this water output, it seems my bags constantly fail. Now, I have had to add a wound vac to the equation. The wound vac is extremely close to the edge of the bag. Therefore, making it even more difficult to get a good seal. Any ideas or suggestions? I know this is a forum about alcohol, but I think I can do without that for the time being. I just want this thing off as soon as possible with as little trouble. I want to go back to work, but I don't feel I can with all the leaks. It also is quite painful to the skin, and I set my alarm for every hour to check and empty if needed. There have been times the bag was so full it should have burst! Just need some help!

  • SecuriCare_Team

    Hi @Amy, sounds like you have multiple issues that need addressing. You should get in contact with your Stoma Care Nurse or healthcare practitioner as soon as possible. You are also welcome to give our Careline team a call to discuss anything we think may be able to help in the meantime, 0800 585 125.

  • carolyn Dann

    Just such an interesting site - thank you - I have had an iliostomy for nearly a year now and am having it reversed soon. I have had a few problems with it usually concerning - vegetables etc. I have had no alcohol for a year or more and this christmas will have a glass of sherry!! hopefully all will be well. I did go swimming this year in the sea in cornwall near my home and had no problems. I do find though that I have to get up once or twice in the night to empty my stoma - quite often it is purely air!! it balloons. I did have problems at the beginning going through chemotherapy etc. when that finished my diet got back to normal. The thought of having a stoma bag horrified me but truly it is not so bad - you do have bad days but on the whole what a fantastic thing we have all had, it has saved our lives. Things can only get better!! Thank you all so much for all the information you have imparted.

  • Joel

    Please how long does temporary ileostomy surgery stays before it is reversed

  • Lyn Finch

    Hi everyone, I've had my stoma for over 10 years now, and still struggle with it! Doesn't make things easier having Hernias from my surgery, making pouches difficult to to fit over the bulges. But come on guys we're alive! When I first got my pouch I used to expect a little Joey to pop his head out, and say Hey get over it! Then I used to joke with my bf (at the time, he's left me now!) Well I used say, does this color suit me? Or does my bum look big with this on! Lol. Best wishes to you all out there, just remember without your precious bag, would you be here? xx

  • bridgett

    I’m a former fighter and had to get an Ileostomy surgery August 7.
    I now have my little friend, my stoma. I named it of course

  • jason roy stevens

    I had a permanent ileostomy 4 weeks ago and had various issues with food and booze since.

    Red wine goes straight through me at a pace but I am ok with white wine and Rose. I've had one G&T and it was fine, a wee dram of whisky is also OK.

    My go-to drink is Guinness, it firms up my output and is full of iron, I have a can every evening. I eat lots of crisps and so far, as long as I have a good portion of carbs I can eat most things. I'm trying chick peas and chorizo stew tonight !

  • Verity

    Hi all,
    Had an interesting read from everyones comments. I have only had my colostomy bag for almost 2 weeks. I'm finding it very hard to deal with and find myself very emotional. Mine is only temporary and will get reversed at some point.
    I'm having trouble with the bags sticking and at night it balloons with air and then it leaks. I dont have a big appetite and haven't for almost a mth now. I stay away from all the things I have been told that will cause blockages and gas but still overnight it balloons. Any tips?

  • Deborah A Cantu

    I have had a ileostomy for about 2 years now n still find it difficult as to what I am suppose to eat. It’s like I am on a trail basis eat n then find out if you shouldn’t of eaten it. I eat a lot of pasta, rice, some veggies that I miss a lot..Still not sure about the cook or raw to eat. So I do both with limited portions n do enjoy a Salad once a week maybe. Lots of potatoes, applesauce, pretzels n peanut butter.. Steak every once in a while. But have to take meds to watch my cholesterol. Seems what you have to eat to bulk the stool is bad with that. I also find the best alcohol to drink is Tito’s Vodka.Per doctor due to gluten free, vegan free n low in sugar. I mix with lite pink cranberry juice, splash of coconut water, Any pomegranate berry Hy-dro amor electrolytes. Quite tasty n somewhat tasty n stomach seems to not mine it at all. One thing Vodka can be mixed with almost anything.. So that’s my to go drink. Now if I could get my fruit n veggies right I would be a happy camper. Tuna, salmon n chicken No problem.. I guess will have to spent money n go see a nutritionist.. They tell you all what not to eat at the beginning but need help after long period after.. Any suggestions besides peeling no skins, nuts, seeds!?!..

  • Lamspire

    I too have a colostomy bag for the past six months and my reversal is due a fortnight after my last chemo, which will be in mid-December . I went through occasions when I've had midnight and early morning leaks, and once I even got a sudden leak in the middle of a meeting. I felt so embarrassed and somehow wriggled my way out. I feel sometimes depressed, perhaps due to my chemo. Off late, I have found that the way I stick the microphore tape around the colostomy bag at an angle and not as a square prevents these leaks. After, I changed the method of sticking the tapes, my bags don't leak and they last longer! Ballooning of my bag can be mostly prevented by avoiding soft drinks and potatoes.

  • Vivien

    I had a permanet iliostomy 8weeks ago. For the past two days my poo has been thick, and difficult to get to the bottom of the bag to empty. My water/drinks quota is just over two litres per day. What can I do to slightly loosen the poo?

    • SecuriCare_Team

      Hi Vivien, if you cannot get in touch with your Stoma Care Nurse to discuss this issue please contact us on 0800 585 125 and we may be able to point you in the right direction.

  • Andre

    I had ileostomy October 2019 and after a month in hospital as I was very ill I got home, I thought all was going well and after routine bloods at GP was called back to hospital as I was so low in magnesium, potassium etc through high output. Drips up and after 2 weeks I recovered enough to go home once again. I now take 8 dioralyte in 1 litre of water to sip on every day to replace electrolytes and no more than a litre of any other fluids (tea juice water) per day. Seems less is more (fluids) for me anyway. Plus bananas, carbs etc less output and thicker, seems to be working better and no leaks. Meals are little and often throughout the day. Tried alcohol and boom it threw everything haywire, electrolytes so low with watery output, couple days after I ended back in hospital as my body spasmed and went rigid, very ill. Don’t know what to do now, what mixers should I use as this was the problem with vodka (it’s a once a week treat to have a drink)

  • Dave

    Came out of Hospital end of October 2019, operations didn’t go well. But after trial and error with food, getting there. Prescribed Loperamide when left Hospital, but doesn’t make a difference, it all depends on your diet. Potatoes, bread, pasta will thicken up the output, whether I take them or not, Milk, will go straight through like water within an hour, the only other thing that makes it watery is Red wine. Apart from that,fine, have been told it could be reversed, but as things stand, Happy to continue as it is.


    Hello all, I've had an ileostomy for eleven years now. The major problem I have had repeatedly is bag ballooning with leaks. I thought this may have been due to unsuitable foods. Cutting out green leaved vegetables, beans and wholemeal bread has certainly alleviated the problem, but a couple of years ago it was very troublesome. My GP referred this to a consultant gastroenterologist who suggested this was due to excessive bacteria in the gut and recommended short doses of antibiotics ( currently Doxtcycline ) which has proved to be good in the medium term. I thought this might be useful for those having the same problem. As regards uneven attachment areas, I have found that Adapt barrier ring(s) are a useful addition to the adhesive flange.

  • Jill Drewitt

    I had my ileostomy in march 20 I have had problem since I am very confused what I can eat I was in icu for 4months had to learn to walk again I had to stay in hospital for 5months can anyone tell me some recipes as I have gone off my food also have problems with liver and blood and salt outputs with blood test I also suffering from ballooning can anybody help me Thankyou

  • Alison

    Hi Michelle and everyone

    I've had a stoma and bag-wearing for five months now and I've finally got a handle on food and sleeping with a bag ie empty before bedtime and have Loperimide/Imodium at the same time and generally I only need to get up once in the night and most of that is wind.
    My problem at the moment is making sure I have enough salt every day (when I rarely used it before) and drinking fruit juice and the odd glass of wine, both of which go straight through me. I like a bit of both. I have just looked up 'ileostomy and wine' on Google and there are various NHS sites and others to read up, all with food and drink advice. I'm going to try a glass of water with a glass of wine; it's suggested I can also drink wine after the food and eat things like bread, rice pasta or mashed potatoes to soak it up. Also adding fruit juice to water (to give the stomach something to work on apparently). No idea if any of this will work but I'm going to give the ideas a try.

    Thank you for your site Michelle, I was getting to the point where I thought a kind of 'support group' might be useful and that I could share what has worked for me.

    Getting a stoma was a terrible shock as it wasn't expected. I knew it was a faint possibility but the cancer had spread and in the end there was no choice, but I guess it's a small price to pay to go on living.

  • Keith Hindley

    Hello from Australia.
    I currently have a J-Pouch and had it for 17 years. But I have had on going problems and I am thinking of going back you a stoma. What are your thoughts.

  • William J. O'SHEA

    Hi everyone,
    Just had a colostomy bag attached - 4weeks. Still getting used to so much and discovering this site has answered so many questions. To all the contributers here thanks. I'll be back again and no doubt with questions!
    Thanks, Bill.

  • Lisa duffy

    Had eliostomy after hysterectomy and perforated bowel have just had gastroenteritis no fun and quite frightening on mend had a potassium drip which has made me feel better have read what potassium is in and rectifying but can you recommend anything as well thanks lisa

  • Mike

    I have a colostomy bag for 2 years now...I want to know does hard liquor burn when it come out....I haven't tried it yet...I had drink beer already...

  • Dirk

    Hello,I have a eliostomy and a colostomy for 5 years now.I drink everything,3-4 liter every day,but after 18-18h30 nothing anymore.Are there people who tried to drink in the evening late,how is your body reacting on it?And what can I do to keep it longer in me?Thanks


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