Ballooning happens when there’s a build-up of gas in the ostomy pouch, making it inflate like a balloon. Pouches have charcoal filters that help handle gas by deodorizing and releasing it from the pouch. But if the filter capacity cannot handle the gas produced, or if it has become moist or blocked by output from the stoma, gas build-up can occur.
What can you do to prevent ballooning?
One of the main ways to prevent ballooning is to minimize the amount of gas your digestive system produces. Chewing food thoroughly really helps, as can avoiding food and drinks that you know make you produce a lot of gas. These could be nuts, beans, fizzy drinks or sparkling wine.
If ballooning does occur, you can release the gas from the pouch in the privacy of a bathroom, if you use an drainable pouch or use a two-piece system. Changing the pouch when needed can also help prevent ballooning. Finally, it may be worth trying another type of ostomy pouch and filter type.
Pancaking happens when there is a vacuum in the ostomy and the ostomy pouch stick together. This stops the output from dropping to the bottom of the pouch and can block the filter. There is then a risk that the pouch will be pushed off the abdomen.
What can you do to prevent pancaking?
Blowing air into the pouch before putting it on will help stop a vacuum from occurring. In addition, a drop of lubricant in the pouch will help the output to get to the bottom of the bag.