Returning to work after getting an ileostomy
As your strength returns, you can go back to your regular activities. If you go back to work, you may want to tell your employer or a good friend about your ileostomy. Being open about it will help educate others. Keeping it a complete secret may cause practical problems.
People with ileostomies can do most jobs. But heavy lifting may cause a stoma to herniate (the whole thing bulges outward) or prolapse (the inside falls outward). A sudden blow to the pouch area could cause the face plate to shift and cut the stoma. Still, there are people with ileostomies do heavy lifting and work as fire fighters, mechanics, and truck drivers. There are athletes who have stomas, too. Check with your doctor about your type of work. As with all major surgery, it will take time for you to regain strength after your operation. A letter from your doctor to your employer may be helpful should the employer have doubts about you’ll be able to do.
Being able to find work is an issue for some people with ostomies. You can get help from health care professionals and/or talk with others who have found solutions. You should know that your right to work may be protected by parts of the US Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act, and sometimes by sections of your state and local laws. If you feel you are being treated unfairly because of your ileostomy, check with the United Ostomy Associations of America or with a local legal resource about protecting your rights. You may also want to read Americans With Disabilities Act: Information for People Facing Cancer.
- What is an ileostomy?
- How your digestive system works
- Types of ileostomies
- Managing your ileostomy
- Choosing an ileostomy pouching system
- Emptying and changing the ileostomy pouching system
- Ordering and storing ileostomy supplies
- Caring for an ileostomy
- Avoiding and managing ileostomy problems
- If you are hospitalized while you have an ileostomy
- Living with an ileostomy
- Telling others about your ileostomy
- What to wear when you have an ileostomy
- Eating and digestion with a ileostomy
- Returning to work after getting an ileostomy
- Intimacy and sexuality when you have an ileostomy
- Playing sports and staying active with an ileostomy
- Traveling when you have an ileostomy
- For parents of children with ileostomies
- Getting help, information, and support
- To learn more
In its original form this document was written by the United Ostomy Association, Inc. (1962-2005) and reviewed by Jan Clark, RNET, CWOCN and Peg Grover, RNET. It has since been modified and updated by:
Last Medical Review: December 2, 2014 Last Revised: December 2, 2014