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Ostomy Tips: Ballooning

OstomyLife Co-Moderator
02/26/19  4:21 PM PST
Ballooning

Ballooning. A common occurrence.

I work a very busy job. I am constantly running to get things done and because of this, I do not always have time to empty my pouch. The less I am able to empty my bag, the more likely I am to have my filter become clogged and experience ballooning.

For those who have not heard the term ballooning before, it is used to refer to an ostomy bag that is puffed up (like a blown-up balloon) due to gas from the digestive tract exiting through the stoma into a person’s ostomy bag. This is inconvenient and it happens to all ostomates, and, as mentioned above, filters do not always prevent it.

Here are some ways to reduce ballooning, as well as some ways to handle ballooning since it cannot always be avoided.

Diet:

To reduce the occurrence of ballooning, one can take steps to reduce gas production. Paying attention to your diet can help reduce your gas production and thus, ballooning. Foods that tend to cause more gas than others include beans, some fruits (apples and pears), some veggies (asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots), dairy, grains, nuts, and carbonated beverages.

While some foods are known to cause gas, people may be affected differently by different foods. Foods that make one person gassy may not cause gas in another. Thus, Eric of Vegan Ostomy suggests keeping a food diary in order to track which foods may individually make you gassy.

Eating Slow:

In addition to what you eat, being mindful of how you eat is important. Eating slowly is very important if you have an ostomy. When we eat slower, two important things happen: we allow our bodies time to tell us we are full before we are overstuffed, and we swallow less air. It takes our bodies some time to communicate to the brain that we are full. If we eat too quickly, we risk overeating before we have had the chance to feel full. Furthermore, when you eat quickly you swallow air. Air that is swallowed goes into your digestive tract and can cause bloating until is comes out your stoma as extra gas. Thus, eating slowly will reduce ballooning by reducing overeating, and reducing the swallowing of air.

Habits:

Other habits that cause air to enter out digestive tract and become gas are drinking through a straw, chewing gum, smoking, and drinking carbonated beverages. All of these occurrences cause air to be swallowed and become gas.

Above are some ways to reduce gas, but gas cannot be eliminated as it is part of digestion. So what about the gas that cannot be avoided that causes ballooning?

Filters:

Using a bag with a filter will reduce ballooning majorly. These filters not only eliminate the gas in the bag automatically, but also scentlessly. That is, the gas is removed without a smell, so no one around you knows it is happening.

Protect your filter:

These filters, however, can become clogged. This can happen because of high output, pancaking, or getting the filter wet. With high output, the filter is likely to become clogged and that cannot really be avoided. For pancaking and getting the filter wet, however, there are some ways to protect your filter.

As discussed in my pancaking article, a filter can work too well and cause a vacuum in your pouch, leading to pancaking which can clog your filter. This can be avoided by placing a filter-sticker or some medical tape over your filter to prevent it from creating a vacuum and removing the sticker or tape as needed to let gas out. This is the same way you can protect your filter from getting wet. Placing a sticker or medical tape over it when bathing or swimming will prevent the filter from being compromised by getting wet. While baths and swimming may ruin your filter if not protected, a shower is not likely to harm the filter, but protecting it may be a good idea just for good measure.

Burping your bag:

Another way to deal with bag ballooning is to burp your bag to let the gas out. This does allow the gas smell to escape the bag and is best done in the bathroom. It may also be helpful to use a pouch deodorizer/ lubricator if you tend to burp your bag a lot and/or biologic odor-reducing spray.

For a one-piece pouching system, the gas must be burped out of the end of the pouch where you empty it. For a two-piece pouching system, the air can be let out of the bag through the end as discussed above, or it can be burped out of the wafer/pouch connection.

Bag vents:

If you are uncomfortable burping your bag, you can purchase bag vents. These do not prevent the smell like a filter does so again it is helpful to use a pouch deodorizer/ lubricator in your bag with these and/or biologic odor-reducing spray. These are like a small valve with a “door” that you open and close to let gas out.

You can purchase a vent such as the Osto-EZ-Vent.

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Comments

1 Comment

  1. Posted March 24, 2019 at 10:05 am PDT

    The Ostomy E-Z Clean pouches have an inlet designed to feed the manifold that is used to clean out the pouch contents and can be used to vent accumulated gas in the pouch. It is a one piece pouch designed to evacuate the pouch waste contents into the toilet where it can b flushed away. This also should be done in the bathroom to avoid odor in other living areas of the house.

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