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.
Colostomy bags ballooning is a problem you may occasionally encounter if you don’t take note of what you eat. 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 start getting used to wearing an appliance and learned how to care for your stoma, there are a few more things you may need to contend with, nothing alarming, but nonetheless discomforting occurrences that happen to people who live with a colostomy.
Bag ballooning is one of them.
Ballooning occurs when there is a gradual build-up and accumulation of gas (flatulence) in colostomy bags. This gas which is passed through the stoma fills the bag gradually, just like inflating a balloon. It eventually fills up until appears like a balloon attached to the abdomen. And of course, it bulges out through your clothing,
If this accumulated air is not let out through the filter of disposable colostomy bags, or at the folded base of the drainable ones, the pressure build-up may make your stoma ache slightly and cause you some discomfort.
What Causes Ballooning of Colostomy Bags?
There are a number of things that cause the ballooning of colostomy bags. Excessive gas build-up, which can be attributed to a gas bloating, is caused, if:
- You swallow excessive air.
- You smoke heavily.
- You chew tobacco.
- You always chew gum.
- You snack and chew continuously.
- You eat rapidly.
- You don’t chew properly and therefore swallow large pieces of food.
- You eat a lot of gas-producing foods like beans, cabbage, and lentils.
- You consume fizzy drinks.
Foods and Drinks That Cause Intestinal Gas Build-Up
The following foods can cause gas build-up and will result in frequent ballooning of your ostomy bags:
- Onions and garlic
- Soy products
- Brussels sprouts
- All carbonated 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 24 hours before your outing.
For working ostomates, following a simple colostomy diet is essential, and gas-emitting foods or drinks must be reserved for weekend treats at home.
Bag ballooning also occurs when you chew your food improperly. To avoid the embarrassing bulge, ensure you chew your foods carefully and eat slowly.
Chewing and swallowing food in a fast manner will make you swallow a lot of air which will end up giving you a bloated colostomy pouch. So, avoid taking in unnecessary gulps of air.
I've written a number of related articles on this topic. Here are some that you may find useful:
How to Manage Bag Ballooning Issues
There is no need to change your bag when it builds up with gas, unless of course, if the bag is ready for a change. All that you need do is to find a private place, room, or bathroom, and release the gas build-up the way I described.
The type of modern colostomy bagsI used to have a small pinhole opening that's linked to a thin disk of charcoal filter. This hole is normally covered with a small round filter cover that can be removed so that the gas can be expelled. You can stick it back on after all air build up is released. There will be no odour because the gas passes through the charcoal filter before getting out into the atmosphere.
If you prefer to wear drainable bags, you can release gas through the same opening where the waste is emptied. Undo the Velcro straps, raise the bag’s end slightly and unfold it. Gently let out the gas without squeezing out faeces. Once it’s all let out, re-fold and re-clamp it.
This may be a bit tricky, but it’s still easy to do, nonetheless. The only disadvantage of emptying gas from a reusable ostomy bag is that the consuming odour of intestinal gas that will erupt is far worse than the smell of farts. With the disposable bags, the charcoal filter takes care of this.
You will need to have your can of colostomy deodorant when releasing gas from re-useable bags. It is an essential ostomy product that must be readily at hand because they help to reduce the effect of the offensive odour.
Tip: Remember, it is pertinent to note that colostomy bags must never get more than two-thirds filled with faeces, neither must it become over half-filled with gas, to avoid colostomy bag ballooning.
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.
Questions & Answers
Question: Can the use of mint tea reduce ballooning?
Answer: Yes. Mint does work and reduces/removes flatulence which is basically one of the things that cause ballooning.
© 2010 Alobeda
Comments Are Welcome
Cha on August 18, 2019:
I have this all the time but not because of the not scewing or eating the wrong kinda food or drinking fizzy stuff. I had a gastric bypass thats why t goes in your bag much faster including air . I take a tissue sit up open up de bag thats a 1 piece bag and after i let the airout i close it by sticking it back on irs only a small part you open
Alobeda (author) from The Global Village on August 15, 2016:
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.
Syed on July 27, 2016:
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 (author) from The Global Village on May 19, 2015:
Thank you so much @Johnk911
I appreciate your visit and share.
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Jesus2 on July 08, 2014:
The answer to this problem in some people is to stop eating bread. Try it, it may work for you also.
Jesus on July 08, 2014:
yes yes yes
Alobeda (author) from The Global Village on November 19, 2011:
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.
karen on November 19, 2011:
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 (author) from The Global Village on September 16, 2011:
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.
steph on September 15, 2011:
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
chris on May 14, 2011:
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 (author) from The Global Village on November 15, 2010:
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.
cheryl on November 15, 2010:
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