How To Keep Your Stoma Quiet

Jay Wearing Mask

When I was a child, Corona was a type of pop drink (you got money back on each bottle to encourage recycling, so us kids would volunteer to go to the shop because many busy parents let their children have the deposit money).

Today though, we hear ‘corona’ and immediately think of COVID-19, a virus which has already taken the life of someone I knew – a veteran who was under the age of 60.

I have had a colostomy for six years, and have certainly had some ups and downs with this unwelcome visitor in my life.

Last winter it was playing up so badly that I was mostly confined to the barracks and had to cancel many travel plans. This year I was just getting back to the gym when Covid-19 restrictions meant all gyms had to close.

So, what has this got to do with the title of the blog? Well, what better time to become more aware about our diets than when we are on lockdown? What we eat as ostomates has a direct impact on how noisy our stomas are!

I’m quite in tune with my body and usually know when my bowel is about to activate. Most of the time I can feel when my stoma is about to pass wind too.

I use my hand as a muffle if I can, I didn’t break wind in front of people before I had a stoma so why would I want to do so now?

Having a colostomy means that I have more options diet-wise than, say, an ileostomate, because only a very small part of my plumbing is missing in comparison, but having a colostomy also means transit times are slower so there is more time for food to ferment and for gas to form. So if I want to experience less gas, I need to adjust what I eat.

When lockdown was rapidly headed our way, I went into a supermarket to get some supplies and burst out laughing. The only vegetables left were Brussel sprouts!

I’ve outlined some tips for my fellow ostomates who need help calming a noisy stoma:

  • Keep well hydrated so that your bowel contents don’t become sluggish (giving them more time to ferment).
  • Get to know FODMAPS (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols) – they’re a collection of poorly absorbed simple and complex sugars that are found in a variety of fruits and vegetables and also in milk and wheat. Studies have shown strong links between FODMAPs and digestive symptoms like gas, bloating, stomach pain, diarrhoea and constipation. Knowing what to avoid is the first step.
  • Take a good probiotic. Many people unknowingly have dysbiosis (imbalance in gut flora) which can contribute to many bowel problems including bloating and gas.
  • Lactose and fructose are types of FODMAP so could cause difficulty for some, you may want to switch to lactose-free dairy products, and start checking food labels for hidden gas-creators. For example, an organic almond milk may contain agave nectar which sounds healthy, but adds to your fructose load.
  • Limit your alcohol intake. Alcohol itself will irritate the gut, and mixers may be carbonated or contain sugar which can all increase bloating, gas and discomfort.
  • Limit starchy foods which can cause bloating and gas.
  • Get to know your own body, listen to what it is telling you, learn which foods affect you and which don’t. Remember we are all individuals.

I have cut out or restricted some foods and have noticed a difference already. Being active will help aid digestion too, but right now it’s limited to home workouts or a walk, so I am missing the gym a lot. But I am keeping safe from COVID-19 and that’s the most important thing for all of us right now.

If you’re looking for an at home workout, check out my YouTube video created specifically for ostomates. Stay safe!

If you’d like to learn more, check out this excellent page of advice about managing wind when you have a stoma, from our sister company, CliniMed.

by Jay Hyrons

Jay Hyrons

About the author

Hi I'm Jay. My stoma was unexpected and very much unwanted, in fact it still is. I am a qualified Clinical Personal Fitness Trainer and a former National Champion Bodybuilder. After eight abdominal surgeries I am still Hernia free. You can see the video made in partnership with CliniMed here Core Exercises to help prevent Hernias and you can get other fitness tips on my YouTube or follow me on Instagram.

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