How to Prevent Colostomy Bag Ballooning

Updated on December 23, 2017
AloBeDa profile image

One of the major challenges I had with my stoma? Bag ballooning. Embarrassing! But I soon found ways to avoid this as much as was possible.

Ostomy bag ballooning is a problem you may occasionally encounter if you don’t take note of what you ingest. It is a common condition that every colostomy patient must learn to cope with, manage, and accept. It is, however, surmountable, and in this article I will tell you how.

As you get more and more used to wearing an appliance and take your colostomy bag care seriously, controlling and managing incidences such as bag ballooning becomes much easier to control and will soon become second nature.

How Does It Happen?

Colostomy bag gas problems like ballooning occurs when there is a gradual build-up and accumulation of gas (flatulence) passed out through the stoma into the colostomy pouch, filling it up gradually until it bulges out through clothing like a balloon attached to the abdomen.

What this basically means is that once the stoma lets out air into the bag it fills it up with no means of escape. If this air is not let out through the bags filter or at the base, if a drainable colostomy bag, the stoma may ache slightly from the pressure build-up.

What Causes Colostomy Bag Ballooning?

You get excessive gas build up which leads to a bloated bag if:

  • You swallow air, something that occurs through smoking.
  • You chew tobacco.
  • You chew gum excessively.
  • You munch or chew continuously.
  • You eat rapidly or swallow large pieces of food that hasn’t been chewed.
  • You follow a diet of foods that give you gas.

Foods and Drinks That Cause Stoma Bag Problems

The following foods will cause gas build-up and will result in frequent bag ballooning:

Foods

  • Nuts
  • Cabbages
  • Onions and garlic
  • Cauliflower
  • Asparagus
  • Soy products
  • Beans
  • Cucumbers
  • Radishes
  • Brussels sprouts

Drinks

  • Carbonated and other fizzy drinks
  • Sparkling wines
  • Champagne
  • Dairy products such as milk, cheese or yoghurt

If for any reason, any of these foods and drinks have to be consumed, it is good you take them in moderation or sparingly. If you have to go out to an event, such foods and drinks must not be consumed for at least 24 hours before the outing.

And for those who have to go to work, following a simple colostomy diet is essential, and gas-emitting foods or drinks can be reserved for weekend treats when you stay at home.

An important thing to note is to chew food more carefully and eat more slowly so as not to take unnecessary gulps of air which will cause gas build-up.

Most times when the bag balloons out, there is no need to change it. All that may be required is releasing the gas build-up privately in the toilet or bathroom.

Modern colostomy bags have a small pinhole opening that's linked to a thin disk of charcoal filter. This hole is normally covered with little stoma bag filter covers. These covers can be lifted to expel the air and release the gas. The gas passes through the charcoal filter with odour.

Colostomy Bag Care and Management

If you are living with a colostomy and prefer to wear drainable bags, you can release gas through the same opening whereby the waste is emptied.

This may be a bit tricky, but it’s still easy to do nonetheless. The only disadvantage of emptying gas from an ostomy bag's ballooning this way is the consuming odour that emanates from it.

In this instance, colostomy deodorants which are an essential ostomy product must be readily at hand. Because ostomy deodorants help reduce the offensive odour, it is advisable to always carry around a small canister.

It is pertinent to note that your colostomy bag must never get more than two-thirds filled with stool, neither must it become over half-filled with gas (flatulence).

Further Reading

I've written a number of related articles on this topic. Here are some that you may find useful:

Questions & Answers

    © 2010 Alobeda

    Comments Are Welcome

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      • AloBeDa profile imageAUTHOR

        Alobeda 

        23 months ago from The Global Village

        Hello Syed

        I'm so sorry for the late reply but I've been away for a while.

        I'm not quite sure what you mean by gas starlets but if I understand you correctly, your baby has gas build-up when she has a colostomy bag on? Pls correct me if I'm wrong.

        Have you tried her on the drain-able colostomy bags? They are good in that you can release gas from them if there is a gas build-up by gently opening it up to release the gas and closing it back up again.

        Let me know if i have answered your question. Best wishes.

      • profile image

        Syed 

        23 months ago

        Hello ! dear all I will be appreciation if you could help, my baby daughter 6 year old ,when she were 8 days old got surgery of colostomy due to not passing the stool normally as per Physician advice, for the second time just three month before she operated and diagnosed as Hairspring disease so in a month she will be for the 3th time operate for redoing.

        Here just I want to know for the colostomy bag is it important or just put a starlets gas on colon , some time she feel pain in her stomach due to bellowing air so it can help colostomy bag because we are using just gas starlets. plz reply thanks

      • AloBeDa profile imageAUTHOR

        Alobeda 

        3 years ago from The Global Village

        Thank you so much @Johnk911

        I appreciate your visit and share.

      • profile image

        Johne710 

        3 years ago

        Thanks again for the blog post.Thanks Again. Cool. ckkccbfedkkg

      • profile image

        Johnk911 

        3 years ago

        Appreciating the time and energy you put into your blog and in depth information you provide. It's good to come across a blog every once in a while that isn't the same unwanted rehashed information. Excellent read! I've saved your site and I'm adding your RSS feeds to my Google account. geeebdagefde

      • profile image

        Jesus2 

        4 years ago

        The answer to this problem in some people is to stop eating bread. Try it, it may work for you also.

      • profile image

        Jesus 

        4 years ago

        yes yes yes

      • AloBeDa profile imageAUTHOR

        Alobeda 

        6 years ago from The Global Village

        Thats a wonderful way to keep her from tugging at the bag. Oh the little darling.

        Thanks for the visit and this important tip Karen.

        Blessings

      • profile image

        karen 

        6 years ago

        I have a 15 month old who has a colostomy bag, and has started pulling her bag off as well. we found that putting a one piece bathing suit on her, (that is a size smaller than she usually wears) under her ZIP UP pjs over night helps a lot. her suit is tight to her skin , and there for hard to get a grip on the bag to pull it off.

      • AloBeDa profile imageAUTHOR

        Alobeda 

        6 years ago from The Global Village

        Hello Steph, i can only think of your patient having to wear a sleeper suit that zips opens only at the back, so that getting to the colostomy bag will be a bit more difficult, and the chances of pulling it off will be reduced. You could try the Buck & Buck sleepwear.

        I really hope this will help.

        Goodluck

      • profile image

        steph 

        6 years ago

        I have a resident that continues to pull off her colostomy bag through out the night... Is there any other kinds of supplies that stick better than others or any trcks to get her to stop pulling it off

      • profile image

        chris 

        7 years ago

        I had diarriah before the air adds to the bag and now 4 nights without sleeping. (it is definitely not my diet) i took gas-x but nothing seems to work. suggestions as exhausted

      • AloBeDa profile imageAUTHOR

        Alobeda 

        7 years ago from The Global Village

        Hello Cheryl.

        It sounds like your patient eats some excessive gas producing foods the evening or night before. If there isn't an underlying medical problem causing the excessive gas, then it may have to do with your patient's diet.

        There are some foods that need to be avoided, or, eaten sparingly when one has a colostomy. If foods such as beans, cauliflower,cheese, onions,or even fizzy drinks is consumed regularly and taken to late at night, colostomy bag ballooning will definitely occur in the morning hours.

        Suggest to your patient what NOT to eat. Try a change of evening foods for a while and see and note the results.

        I hope this helps.

        Thanks for the visit.

        Goodluck.

      • profile image

        cheryl 

        7 years ago

        my patient has gas in the morning and it his bags gets so big it pulls loose....how do i prevent this....i have him on every kind of gas pill known to man....his bag is 1 piece and has the gas release with charcoal, but there is a plastic cover over it so it seems to defeat the purpose to me....HELP

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