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How I Avoid Colostomy Bag Leaks and What I Do If I Have One

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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.

Read on for tips!

Read on for tips!

Colostomy Bag Blowouts and Leaks

Some colostomy problems and incidences are unavoidable. Two examples of bag problems are colostomy bag blowouts and leaks. They were issues I encountered now and then, but not that often. The term ‘blowout’ may sound like a disaster, but that’s not the case, while the term 'leaks' is pretty obvious.

When a blowout occurs, the colostomy pouch does not blow off like a burst balloon, splattering faeces all over the place. Rather, what happens is that for some reasons, the bag’s waxy face-plate begins to flex and gradually lifts off from around the stoma.

Causes of Plate Flexing

So, what causes the plate to flex?

It mostly has to do with the stoma but also has to do with stool consistency, lotions, and face-plate holes.

  • Stoma shrinkage: In this instance, the stoma may shrink, for instance, when the weather is extremely cold.
  • Recede: A receding stoma is one that is almost completely retracted into my body.
  • Lightly expand: Sometimes, when the weather is extremely hot, or you’ve just had a hot bath or shower, the stoma expands a bit.
  • Be prolapsed: Some stomas prolapse, and this can facilitate blowouts. A prolapse occurs when the bowel protrudes through the stoma opening in the stomach to a greater extent than was anticipated. A protruding bowel can vary from 2 cm to 3 cm, and sometimes as much as 10 cm.
  • React to heat or cold: The stoma sometimes shrinks, recedes, or lightly expands with excessive heat or intense cold.
  • Stool consistency: Hard stool caused by constipation may not expel into the colostomy bag and will put some pressure on the rim of the cut face-plate holes
  • Faceplate hole size: A hole that’s cut too large that doesn’t fit snugly around the stoma leaves room for leakage and a slow but gradual lift of the face-plate.
  • Creams and lotions: If the skin around the stoma is oily from the use of creams or oil, the faceplate will not stick firmly on the abdomen and will lift off.

With colostomy bags blowout, as the face-plates lift widens, more stool seeps into these gaps. This is when leakages begin to occur. Eventually, the consistent leak causes the accumulation of waste, which then blows open a section of the waxy plate.

Bag blow-outs can turn into a really nasty situation if not remedied immediately.

Tell-Tale Signs of an Impending Bag Blowout

If you are perceptive, you will feel it coming on. You will experience a slight feeling of air pockets developing around your stoma and a horrifying warm feeling of the first faeces leak. About a second later, you will smell a faint (at first; it gets worse) whiff of stool coming from your abdominal area. This is usually the first sign of what may eventually result in a colostomy pouch blow-out.

The next thing to do is to find a toilet and change your bag. If you don’t, though it happens slowly; gradually forming a "caking" around the stoma, it will eventually have an opening that will expand enough to leak faeces onto your clothing, and that will be very unpleasant.

How to Manage Bag Blowout Problems

You will be the first person to notice this whiff of odour. Don’t dismiss it because it will only get worse. To manage this colostomy bag problem, all that’s required is the replacement. However, after removing the offending appliance and wearing a fresh new one, you must clean the stoma and its surrounding area gently, including where the caking may have occurred.

After I found ways to manage this problem, I rarely experienced it. These are the measures I took:

  • I ensured that the skin area around my stoma was free from dirt, cream, or oil so that the faceplate could adhere firmly to my abdomen.
  • I ate the right foods and stayed away from foods that made me constipated.
  • I used modern colostomy bags, which helped me manage colostomy bag problems with ease.
  • I ensured that the cut-out stoma holes on the colostomy bag's waxy face-plate were the right size for my stoma.
  • I rarely used pre-cut plates. They just never seemed to fit well around my stoma. There is an advantage in using modern pouches that you can cut yourself as the stoma sometimes changes in size.
  • If the hole is remotely larger than the stoma, caking and colostomy bag blowouts may occur, and if too small, it will bruise the stoma and cause slight bleeding.
  • If I can’t resist eating food that’s associated with constipation, I eat them only when I know I’ll be staying home, like over the weekends.

When colostomy bag blow-ups begin to occur, some of you may not be aware of it until you detect that first whiff of odour. That’s the main thing to look out for. Also, if you feel the slightest flexing of your faceplate along your skin folds, it’s coming on.

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Read More From Patientslounge

When any of these happen, then you know it is time for a change. Also, avoid being caught unawares; always remember to carry spare colostomy bags along with you whenever you are away from home because blowouts" may occur, even if your colostomy bag is partially empty.

Depending on how long you’ll be away from home, whether it is a couple of hours or the whole day, never have less than two to four spares colostomy bags with you.

Further reading:

6 Problems to Expect If You Have a Colostomy

How I Prevent Colostomy Bag Ballooning

Colostomy Supplies You Need for Your Stoma Care and Management

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2010 Alobeda

Your Comments and Views

JL.Sherrer on November 20, 2019:

consisting of Radiation and Chemo.

Alobeda (author) from The Global Village on May 07, 2018:

Yes, you can, as long as you have your colostomy bag on.

Having a stoma hole doesn’t affect your sex life in any way.

Hope this helps.

Alobeda (author) from The Global Village on April 30, 2018:

Alta, if it is faeces leaking, then the colostomy bag plate round hole is too large.

Alobeda (author) from The Global Village on April 30, 2018:

Alta, I’m not sure what you mean by the stoma leaking.

Is it leaking round the edges (its perimeter)?

Could the cut hole on the colostomy bag face plate be to small, which can squeeze the edges and cause bleeding? Check that.

Whichever it is, it is best to consult a doctor so as to avoid an infection.

Alta Coetzee on April 30, 2018:

I know someone that is desperate the stoma is leaking and we try everything is there someone that can assist she does not have medical aid not sure if the stoma bag is the correct one please can someone assist to help us

Alobeda (author) from The Global Village on August 19, 2014:

Thank you @weezyschannel and thanks for the visit.

Lisa from Central USA on July 04, 2014:

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

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