An ostomy bag or stoma bag is a medical device used after an ostomy procedure. Whether you got a colostomy, ileostomy or urostomy, you will need these pouches because it’s where your stool or urine will be expelled.
Fortunately, these bags are straightforward to use, and you can easily attach them to your stoma without needing medical assistance. Or perhaps you’re helping a loved one connect their ostomy bags to their stoma. Thats also fairly easy to do.
Ostomy pouches come in one-piece and two-piece configurations. One-piece ostomy bags are very discreet, although they can be less convenient because the two parts of the appliance (barrier and pouch) are permanently attached. Most consider two-piece ostomy bags to be more versatile since they have a flange connecting the stoma to the pouch. This means they can be separated and cleaned, or the pouch can be replaced without peeling the barrier off from the skin.
It’s important to keep in mind that some problems may arise, such as skin irritation, blockages, etc. One common problem is that gas in colostomy bags can build up and result in ballooning. If you want to know how to keep an ostomy bag from ballooning, keep reading below.
What is Ballooning?
Ballooning refers to the gas that builds up in your ostomy pouch whenever your digestive system produces some wind. Even if your pouch has a filter, which generally allows gas to escape, ballooning can still happen if the amount of gas is excessive. In addition, it can occur when the filter gets wet or if it’s blocked from stoma output.
It’s very uncomfortable and can cause the bag to detach from the body, or “blow out,” causing a big mess. It’s best to know how to control gas with a colostomy or ileostomy to prevent it from happening.
Tips to Reduce Ballooning
There are things you can do to prevent ballooning. Here are some useful tips. It’s best to follow these tips closely to ensure that you don’t face any issues with your ostomy bag in the future.
Pay attention to the food you’re eating
Your diet is one of the leading causes of ballooning because what you’re eating can affect the amount of gas your stoma produces. Therefore, there are some foods that you must avoid or limit yourself from eating.
Some examples of foods to avoid are those high in simple sugar and starches since they can cause too much gas. Some of these foods include beans, fruits, vegetables, wheat or dairy products, and carbonated drinks.
Other foods to avoid:
However, it’s worth noting that some foods will make certain people gassy, while they won’t affect others. So it’s best to keep a food diary to track your food and which produces wind.
Don’t rush while eating
The way you eat can also make your stoma pouch balloon. So one tip that’s easy to remember but hard to master is to eat slowly. Be mindful of what you’re eating and how you’re eating. If you have an ostomy pouch, make sure to don’t rush your meals by chewing slowly and sipping your drinks slowly.
Eating slower gives your body time to tell you that you’re full before you overeat. At the same time, you swallow less air. The air that’s swallowed goes to your digestive tract, which causes bloating. After that, it comes out of your stoma as extra gas. So eating slowly will reduce ballooning due to not overeating and swallowing less air.
Crush those unhealthy habits
Bad habits are also one of the main culprits of gas in an ostomy bag. Smoking and drinking alcohol can cause your digestive system to work slower, which increases your chances of having a gassy pouch. So if you want to ensure that you keep an ostomy bag from ballooning, you must do away with those unhealthy habits.
Other unhealthy habits that can lead to gas in your stoma:
Drinking through a straw
Drinking carbonated beverages
These things force you to swallow extra air, which becomes gas. Avoiding them altogether can help keep your ostomy bag from ballooning.
Use a bag with a filter
Using a bag with a filter can significantly reduce your ostomy bag from ballooning. These will eliminate gas from your bag automatically and without any scent. In short, it removes the gas from your bag without anybody noticing since there’s no odor.
However, filters can get clogged. So you have to protect it. It’s due to high output (or if an overwhelming amount of air is produced), pancaking, or if the filter gets wet. As aforementioned, high output can clog your filter, which can’t be avoided. But with pancaking and wet filters, there are some ways to protect it successfully.
In pancaking, you can place a filter sticker or medical tape over the filter to prevent it from creating a vacuum and only remove the tape to let the gas out. The same goes for protecting the filter from getting wet. Place a sticker or tape when bathing or swimming, so it won’t get wet.
Burping the bag
Burping your ostomy pouch to let the gas out is one way to prevent ballooning. It’s best done in the bathroom since the smell is more prominent. You can also use an ostomy deodorant or lubricator if you tend to burp your bag a lot, together with an odor-reducing spray.
Use a bag vent
If you’re not much of a fan of burping, you can do it with a bag vent. However, these don’t mask the smell, unlike filters. So it’s best to use a deodorizer, lubricator, and an odor-reducing spray.
Stop Ballooning from Happening to Your Ostomy Bag
Ballooning happens to your bag occasionally since we can’t stop gas from entering our bodies. So you should look at the tips above, especially for those who just had an ostomy procedure or are caring for a loved one with an ostomy pouch.
At Medical Monks, there are ostomy products that you can use as you begin your journey after a colostomy. Find the best brands that will fit your new lifestyle.