Colostomy Bag Care - How to Prevent Colostomy Bag Ballooning
Ostomy bag ballooning is one of the few but surmountable colostomy pouch problems you will encounter occasionally if you don’t take note of what you ingest. It is a condition that every colostomy patient must learn to cope with, manage, and accept as something that occurs in the daily life of ostomates.
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.
Related article: How to Avoid Colostomy Bag Problems Like Bag Blow-Outs
Foods and DrinksThat Cause Stoma Bag Problems
The following foods will cause gas build-up and will result in frequent bag 'ballooning':
- Onions and garlic
- Soy products
- Brussels sprouts
- Carbonated and other fizzy drinks
- Sparkling wines
- 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 24hrs 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 left as 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's balloon outs 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 drain-able 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).
Related article: How to Manage Your Colostomy and Stoma Bag After Colon Surgery
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