Ballooning can be an issue you may face when you are an ostomate, with either an Ileostomy or Colostomy. As a urostomy is a bladder stoma, you will find you won’t experience this, unless you have other things going on.
After surgery, within the first few days, up to a week, or even months, ballooning can be quite common. It can be due to the air they put inside your bowel when operating or, diet related (perhaps, both!) Even after years as an ostomate, you can experience ballooning from time to time, usually at the most inconvenient of times! There are things you can do to try and limit ballooning from happening. This is what I have found to be helpful, over my 7 years with my Ileostomy;
- Reducing fizzy drinks.
- Reducing fibre or, following a low residue diet.
- Limiting how much gassy foods you eat.
- Changing your bag regularly.
- Keeping well hydrated.
- When a blockage or partial blockage occurs, a liquid diet and/or orange juice can help to pass it, and a heat pad to reduce the pain of the trapped gas which cannot pass.
Foods high in fibre can often cause excess gas within your bowel(s). Takeaway food can also cause a lot of gas if it is high in fat, especially chip shop food. This doesn’t mean you should never have them, though! Myself and my partner both have ileostomies so, we have these foods and cola from time to time, but very rarely, as we like to home cook. As my partner works early in the morning, I make sure that we don’t have anything too gassy before bed otherwise, we wake up a few times during the night with a big balloon, and wake up feeling like we haven’t gotten much sleep! You feel like you may float up to the ceiling at any minute!! If this does happen or, you are nervous about trying gassy foods or drinks, set an alarm on your phone for a couple of times during the night, so you can check! This makes it easier to avoid leaks, sore skin from the bag pulling due to being full of air and, also what foods set you off more with bowel habits changing, i.e one food you may have eaten differently causing high output.
For ostomates who are on the go most of the day, work, or a mama (like me), ballooning can happen during the day too and, if you haven’t a toilet very close by, this can be not only embarrassing, but it also really uncomfortable! As more air fills inside the bag, it has nowhere to go, so the bag will start to stretch then, peel off. It’s important to take spare supplies with you, in case this does happen perhaps in a little bag. During the times of being active, drinking water is the best fluids for you (if you have your large bowel still), isotonic drinks/sports drinks if you have an Ileostomy (and no large bowel), or flat juices that aren’t fizzy, keeping you hydrated and wind free as possible. You can also get ostomy briefs/boxers which hold the bag in place, which is extremely handy in giving you a little extra time to get to the toilet, such as Comfizz.
It takes time to get into your ‘normal’, you’ll will find what works best for you as a person, not as just an ostomate in general. Ballooning won’t stop you from living an active life and I’m hoping by sharing my little tips, it may help you eliminate that.