How to Avoid Colostomy Bag Problems (Leaks and Blowouts)

Updated on April 5, 2018
AloBeDa profile image

Adjusting to a colostomy is tough. For me, it was like a horrible dream. But with a positive mindset, I soon adjusted to my new life.

When you have a colostomy bag, one unexpected problem that can occur is a bag "blow-out."

True, this term may alarm you if you are a new ostomate, but it’s not as if the pouch "blows off" from your abdomen onto your face!

What happens in the case of a bag blow-out is that the waxy faceplate of the colostomy bag begins to flex and lift up from around the stoma.

When this happens, feces expelled through the stoma will begin to seep through and fill the open spaces of the faceplate. As the gap widens, more stool seeps into these gaps and this eventually causes the accumulating waste to "blow" a section of the pouch open. This can pose a really nasty situation if it's not remedied quickly.

Causes of Colostomy Bag Blow-Outs

There are a few things that may cause a stoma bag blow out. The stoma itself may:

  • Shrink
  • Recede
  • Lightly expand
  • Be prolapsed
  • React to heat or cold

Expelling hard feces may also bring about this situation, especially when a patient is constipated, in which case the waste, instead of flowing into the colostomy bag, will start to put some pressure on the rim of the cut faceplate holes, causing a slow but gradual lift.

Tell-Tale Signs of an Impending Blow-Out

If you are perceptive, you will feel this colostomy bag problem coming on. It’s a slight feeling of an air pocket developing around the stoma, and you will even feel the slight warmth of the first leak.

At this time you may perceive the faintest whiff of odour, a tell-tale familiar smell emanating from the stoma area.

This is usually the first clue to what may result in a colostomy pouch blow-out.

This is the time you must go and get your ostomy bag changed because though it happens slowly, gradually forming a "caking" of waste around the stoma; it will eventually have an opening that will expand and leak feces right onto your clothing.

Dealing with Embarrassing Moments!

How to Manage the Problem

Obviously, the patient is the first to perceive this whiff of odour and as soon as it is perceived, it must not be dismissed, because it will then get more obvious and cause unnecessary embarrassment.

The situation mostly calls for a colostomy bag replacement. But before wearing a fresh new one, it is good to clean the area gently, especially where much caking may have occurred.

Eating the right foods and using modern colostomy bags goes a long way in helping the wearer manage colostomy bag problems with ease and avoid common embarrassing situations associated with patients living with a colostomy.

It’s also good to ensure that theskin area around the stoma is free from dirt, cream, or oil so that the faceplate sticks firmly on the abdomen.

It is very important that the cut out stoma holes on the colostomy bag's waxy face-plate is the right size for your stoma.

There is sometimes an advantage in using modern pouches that you can cut yourself. The stoma itself seems to shrink, recede, or lightly expand, depending on some a number of factors, including excessive heat and intense cold.

If the hole is remotely larger than the stoma, caking, and eventually colostomy bag blowouts may occur, and if too small, it may bruise the stoma and cause slight bleeding.

On a final note, the main thing to look out for is first, a whiff of the tell-tale odour, or the faceplate flexing along skin folds. When any of this happens then you know its time for a change in order to avoid a nasty colostomy bag problem like a blow-out.

And remember to always carry spare colostomy bags along with you whenever you are away from home because blow outs" may occur, even if your colostomy bag is partially empty.

© 2010 Alobeda

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    • AloBeDa profile image

      Alobeda 3 years ago from The Global Village

      Thank you @weezyschannel and thanks for the visit.

    • weezyschannel profile image

      Lisa 3 years ago from Central USA

      Great video! could not have said it better myself! I've tried every trick in the book, doesn't matter..accidents are going to happen