Stoma Bag Ballooning - Michelle’s Tips For Coping

by Michelle Williams

Stoma Bag Ballooning Michelles Tips For Coping

Stoma bag ballooning – worse in the beginning

When I first got my stoma there wasn’t much that didn’t cause my bag to balloon, which is where your stoma bag blows up with wind or even blows off completely. But the good news is that, once my stoma had settled, the ballooning stopped happening so much. When you consider that the average human passes wind 14 times a day, ballooning is something that can be a daily occurrence but it’s rare to get it so bad that you look like you have an airship shoved down the front of your jeans. The majority of stoma bags have charcoal filters that deodorise and allow the escape of gas but these can easily become blocked with moisture from inside the bag.

Fizzy drinks and ‘burping’ your stoma bag

For me, something that is guaranteed to make my bag balloon is fizzy drinks. Quite aptly, the way to resolve this quickly is to ‘burp’ your bag. This can be done anywhere you wouldn’t be embarrassed to pass wind but I normally try to do it in a bathroom.

Remove your bag from your clothing and hold the outlet up towards you, so that your bag is in a U shape, open the outlet and slowly press down on the bag so that only the air is expelled. 

Ballooning and flying

Ballooning can be worrying when you are flying in an aeroplane; my first thought was “will my stoma bag expand in the air like an unopened crisp packet does” (yes I was ‘that’ person who called the Ostomy Helpline to ask that question). The good news is it doesn’t, so you don’t have to worry about becoming known as a poop bomber, because your bag has exploded. To be on the safe side, and also for comfort, I always visit the toilet next to the departure gate to burp my bag and get it as flat as possible before my flight.

Dealing with day-to-day ballooning

For day-to-day ballooning, a good pair of support pants like Comfizz, a belly band or hernia support belt will hide any ballooning under your clothes without compromising the bag. At no point will it look like you have ‘Alien’ trying to escape from the side of your abdomen.

A common home remedy is peppermint tea which is a good preventative measure for when you are feeling gassy or like you have trapped wind. A cup of this seems to disperse the gas without it coming out via the bag. If you can’t stand the taste of peppermint tea then peppermint capsules are available and just as effective.

I hope that some of these tips which have worked for me will be of help to you too!

Jen shares her experiences of travelling with ostomy supplies and medication

Michelle Williams

About the author

My name is Michelle; I live in Kent with my husband and son. I have a permanent ileostomy as a result of Ulcerative Colitis. You can follow me on twitter.

Recent Comments

  • Philip Clingham

    Many thanks, have followed you on Twitter, I also have an ileostomy, and gratefully for your post.

  • Mike Whalley

    Choice of bag can help deal with this to some extent. Most of the time I wear a Welland bag, which has reliable adhesion, and a filter that's useless. I like the simplicity of emptying. If I'm going to be in a 'trapped' situation, theatres and football matches are typical examples. I use a Coloplast Sensura bag. It has a filter that works! The material is great as well, but it's adhesion is very suspect. As long as your only going to wear this bag for short periods, they're fine. I'm not a big fan of the closure on these either. My ideal bag would have the flange and opening of the Welland and the bag and filter of the Coloplast.

  • Mike DIllon

    My son has a colostomy bag and we have the same problem with the bag blowing up. We are currently trying out different bag suppliers and have also found that the Coloplast bags DEFINITELY work the best letting out the air. When we use them we never have to empty out any air at all! Where as with the dansac bags we have to empty the air 3-4 times a day. We are currently having problems getting the bags to last. My son is only 4 (which is difficult as he's not very aware of his bag). The bags only seem to only last 3/4 - 1 day, which isn't great for his skin around the stoma.

  • beverley joiner

    Having had a stoma on and off (more on) for ten years, my advice is you need to change the bag daily to maintain the condition of your skin. When I first had my ileostomy I tried to make the bags last a couple of days as I hated having to change however this led to a huge ulcer (3" by 2.5") that the bag wouldn't stick to and was agony, resulting in the stoma having to be moved to the other side. However now its just like brushing my teeth. Get the bags precut to the exact size of your stoma, then there is no risk of leakage or skin damage, there is also a spray that removes the bag really easily so there is no trauma to the skin it is called APPEEL by Clini med, it removes that bag with no pulling or tearing. My bag is Pelican 11210 and it is very small and neat, does not balloon and I get them from Amcare. Good Luck

  • Dave Wakeling

    Thanks for your help only my first week lots to learn trouble is im inthe usa

  • Mr. R. Killeen

    Thank you for this blog. Sometimes you feel very alone when things go wrong. Excessive ballooning seems to always happen when I'm asleep and leads to a leak every time. Trouble is, I do love my food and find myself ignoring all the dietary rules. I have totally given up fizzy drinks but that seems to have made no difference at all. Reluctantly I feel maybe I should pay more attention to my diet. Good luck to all you "baggies" out there. If I find a sure fire cure I will let you know!

  • Terry Pilfold

    My stoma is 18 years old. Made in South Africa. I moved back to UK in 2013 after 43 years in Africa. For some reason, in the last few months, I have had 'explosions' while asleep; these due to rolling over onto a "Ballooned" bag. My diet has not changed since I returned to UK, and I'm stuck as to why this sudden problem is occurring. Maybe I should give up champagne!!!!!!!!!

  • Claire

    This is the first site I've found dealing specifically with ballooning. I had my ileostomy 2 months ago and still struggling. My ballooning happens every night while I'm asleep and I'm so worried it will burst. Are all bags supposed to have a vent? I'm using Dansak. Any advice will be really appreciated.

  • Pam

    I solved that problem by eating gluten free. I had ballooning so bad. I was so umcomfortable every time I ate no matter what. . I was tested for Celiac Disease & said I have a gluten intolerance. I get severe cramps when I eat wheat. Eating gluten free has helped. If I eat the wrong foods my pouch blows right back up. I had a rice cake before but there must be wheat or maltroxtrin which is really gluten in diguise

  • Michelle Williams

    Thank you everyone that has taken the time to to comment on my post. The notifications for comments don't always come through so apologies for returning late to the party. Securicare medical have a great team that includes medical professionals that you can call up and speak to about any bag or skin issues you are having. Even if you don't use Securicare as your supplier / delivery company, they are still happy to help. Ballooning whilst asleep I think is a problem we all suffer from and I honestly don't know the answer. I just sleep with a hand resting either on it or near it and my subconscious somehow wakes me up. It's normally the same time every morning around 4am but it's so part of my routine that I'm sure I'm barely awake when I go into the loo to empty / burp it and then I'm straight back off to sleep. Sonikmummy x

  • CLD Developer

    Thank you for the advice! Your hilarious candor made me lol and mom had to hush me. God bless you and thanks again

  • Emily

    Slightly different subject- When I drink the fluid goes straight to my stoma which fills up in minutes. My bladder remains pretty empty and I gddo for days without having a wee. I have hre scans that show what is happening bladder wise but nothing about all my drinking going to my stoma and at an amazing speed. can anyone help?

  • Beverley Samson

    i have had my stoma for just over 2 years now and i am having alfull problems with the gas and the bag blowing up what can i take to stop this from happening meny thanks

  • SecuriCare

    Hi Beverley, We asked one of our SecuriCare Stoma Care Nurses, Emma, your question above and here is her response...we hope it helps! For a Colostomy: You could look at trying another pouch with a larger filter or consider using a two piece, so that you can separate the pouch from the flange to let the wind out. This is called 'burping the pouch'. Look at what you are eating. Some foods cause more wind than others. Here is a list: Green vegetables, cauliflower, sprouts, beans, cabbage, Peas, Sweet corn, Baked beans, Onions, garlic, Mushrooms, cucumber, parsnip, Swede, turnip; High fibre starchy foods such as, whole meal bread and wholegrain cereals; Fizzy drinks including beer ; Chewing gum Snoring can also cause wind in the pouch. Unfortunately there is no way of completely stopping wind, and hence the pouch filling up. Some of what I have mentioned above will help. For an ileostomy: All the above applies, but you can also let wind out the pouch opening.

  • h.l.arora

    i am an ostomat and find it difficult to release gas form the bag especially when in sound sleep. I just want to know whether the pouch companies can't provide a vent pipe with a airtight stopcock near the top of pouch so that the gas can be released easily. Pl comment. Thanks

  • Heidi

    Thank you for the good advise, I had a permanent iliostomy made 4 months ago, I am having probs with the pouch ballooning, but the thing that bothers me the most, is the noises it makes, so embarrassing....._

  • martyn

    I have lived with a stoma for nearly 7 years, and only this year have experienced excessive "ballooning", which I can tie down to the fact that I had a complete change of medication due to another problem. My diet has not changed over the years, and I feel that. GP's/consultants/ etc. do not talk to each other with regard to whether the mix is right.

  • Dawn Young

    I am 49' and I'm scheduled to have my procedure for my Ostomy in a few weeks time I'm so nervous and anxious about everything about it but you all inspire me I'm. Not looking forward to anything about the procedure or afterwards but I need it and I'm sure it will give me a much better quality of life Thanks to you all and Good luck

  • JP

    Hi, I had an ileostomy in Sept 16 and feel new again. I eat nearly anything and I'm sure there is foods I should not be eating. I could not eat for long enough so I'm making up for that. There's no pain , weight is on , I can drive on bumpy roads , started rehab with light exercises and building up. Ballooning is an issue more so at night and thinking a busy mind could be adding to it. Must get more disciplined to try what foods may cause it ( desert /sugary does not help. Still use imodium . Thanks all for your comments.

  • Sue Trickett

    This has happened a few times but last night was the worse Severe stomach ache presumably wind caused me to pass out completely What can I do ? The pain is bad I watch what I eat but hospital food was so horrid now I'm home I'm having a bit of variety which is nice as I need to put weight on too. Am I best sticking to bland food ? It's ruining my recovery

  • nigel miller

    hi there
    just got to read some of this. i am a ilumostomy at 57 now. i have had it since 1998 and looking back i had to have it as for blooning. i found diet and bag type helps stop all, but find these day it to ballon more than before so i will experement one again to get ride or to a mimumal amount if fine i need to wake at 4 in the morning to get the bag empty off and also get wind out also have postrate problem so waking at this time is no problem.

  • Susan Littler

    Hi, I've had my pouch now for 34years, and a lot of other conditions health wise. I'm a insulin diabetic since last June, so eating white bread was a no no cos it puts my sugar up ( turned to carbs) so does any thing that's white rice pasta pies.
    My pouch keeps blowing up and get tight as a drum but pulls on stoma if that makes sence, so I get leaks cos it's blown up so my base plate leaks.
    I am stuck in bed in a home so I have to ask my visitors to go out while I release the wind and spray with air fresh some times I don't know which is worse the air freshener or the wind.
    I use hollister one piece it has a fillter but I don't think it works , has anyone had problems with this make of pouch.
    Will be grateful for any info on this matter.

  • chris flynn

    please i cant go out anywhere its quite from the noise from winding in my col bag any help please

  • A

    I faced issues with Wind, Sound that it makes and after that it ballons up.

    For sound, I wore one thin cloth like elastic support that was given to me by stoma nurse for hernia support. I just covered the top portion of the bag with support elastic cloth. this redued the noise quite a bit. But since I have to be in meeting where sometimes it is pin-drop silence, I put cotton piece right on my stoma which was held by the elastic support. this ensure that stoma does not make noise. I dont keep this on for entire day, I just make sure I use it when I require it the most.

    For Balloning, though people may not agree with me on this. but I will share it if someone like to try it.

    I use a pin to puncture the pouch when it balloons up. you will notich smell coming out while it releases gas, but after a minute or so, once it is released, it becomes normal and comfortale. make sure you don't puncture it where stoma is as it may harm you. do it below the stoma. keep a pin with you.

    both the above approaches have worked for me.

  • Vicky Holland

    Hi I had my illeostomy 31st January 2017! I was in hospital for 6 weeks this was mainly because I was told I didn’t need my bowels emptying before surgery! Anyway the story is too long! If ur having surgery make sure u empty ur bowels before! I’ve had quite a number of Stoma bags and the best I’ve found is the senso mio it’s very good! I wouldn’t say it sticks as secure as the dansak but I’m allergic to that one I’m affraid! You must always follow the diet or your bag will burst or you will finish up with a blockage and my god I thought I was dying! I’ve got other quite severe illness problems and lucky for me my husband is my carer!! but if anyone wants to ask me anything about my Stoma and I can help in anyway I will do my best to answer. Vickyx

  • Jenny

    I had my operation 8 weeks ago, I had an illeostomy which I'm praying will be reversed eventually! I have had two night time leaks over last 3 weeks where it is very thick and doesn't slide down the bag which isn't very full? Does anyone knows why this happens! My dirt is mostly the same since I left hospital! It has happened with two different makes of bags. So unpleasant! Be grateful for any help! Thank you best wishes Jenny

  • Michelle Gardiner

    Hi my advice to Jenny would be to take some lactulose or fresh orange juice this should make your output thinner and should go into the bag easier. It sounds like your experiencing "Pancaking" this is when the output sits around stoma and pushes out through the flange instead of going into the bag.
    I had this problem often when i first got my Illeostomy and the smell alone was enough to wake me!! My poor husband woke up with output on his back a couple of times where I must have cuddled into him!! Good job we both have a wicked sense of humour!! Lol.
    I do hope you get your problem resolved.

  • Howard

    in reply to sue littler (jan this year) I too have a Hollister pouch and quite often have ballooning problems if this occurs when out I have found that the cause is liquid on the filter so if you bend the filter with a good bit of toilet paper protecting your hand and squeeze liquid will come out of the vent and allow gas to escape ( slowly ) another piece of toilet paper is best placed over the filter as after this it might seep onto your clothing obviously when convenient a bag change is the best solution. Hope this is of help

  • David

    I had my ileostomy surgery two years ago. I have a ballooning problem with Hollister, often when I am asleep after having carbonated drinks. Fortunately I sleep on my back or I could have a problem. As I wear a two-piece you have to be careful getting up or you could separate the bag from the barrier. I empty when I have an opportunity in public restrooms, it keeps the volume of gas and output lower and me more comfortable. Leaks are infrequent for me but excessive gas can put pressure on a weakened barrier and cause one. Ballooning is my primary problem but, I do like my beer and sugars. Price I pay for my diet.
    Since I am a teacher, I wear ostomy underwear to try to keep the profile lower and am strategic in my schedule for breakfast and lunch times and volumes to try to keep everything invisible. Hollister filters are not very good, I experiment with other brands during the summer (no leaks in class). I am about to try Convatec's new line. I am going to try Coloplast again since their filters are supposed to be better. I am also going to try a one-piece.

  • Pat Reed

    Hi, I had my colostomy May 2017 and had several leaks in the first couple of months, then started using Salts convex pouches - no leaks since, they literally stick like glue! Another thing I do is if I have to empty the pouch while out is to tie one of the disposal bags round the pouch, then tuck into my underwear. No smells and safety until I can change. This works for middle of the night panics as well. Hope this helps someone!

  • Brendan g

    I have the same prob ballooning at night I get up 2 or 3 times at night, just cannot sleep proper

  • John C

    I have recently started baking my own bread. Is it possible why this is causing balooning?

  • Lorilynn Morrow

    I just received the new Coloplast catalog and was so happy to see they now have a plastic snap like device that you can push into your bag to puncture it and then snap it back shut to avoid leaks! Brilliant, I’ve ordered samples and will post results here. I had an emergency ileostomy 2 years ago due to undiagnosed ulcerative colitis, even tho I had had every test imaginable. Then one night I got a horrific pain and my entire stomach immediately bulged out like I was 8 months pregnant. I’m 5’3” and it was alarming and so painful. My daughter called paramedics and my colon had completely torn away from my small intestine. I have bad problems with ballooning and I set my cell phone timer for every 2-3 hours overnight so I can at least feel to see if it is bulging. I can’t wait for the snap air release buttons to arrive. I may finally get a nights sleep. But I’ve also changed my bag to the SenSura Mio system that coupled with the snaps should get me at least more sleep. Thank you all for your posts. They are so helpful. Even 2 years in I still sometimes struggle

  • Carole hunt

    Balooning....I had an ilestomy in sept....does sugar cause the problem.

  • Carole hunt

    I had an ilestomy and I wear gel nails....I don’t use gloves....my fingers are hurting this morning....suggestions..I am scared

  • Edie

    Carole H. I have gel nails and no issues. Just make sure you wash with hot water and soap. This is week 4 with my ostomy.

  • Marne Hoevet

    Does anyone use anti-flatulence pills like Gas-X, Lactaids, etc.?Any recommendations for those? I’ve used a few but not with great success. I’ve had my ileostomy for more than 47 years and this is the first time I’ve had a flatulence problem and it is so exasperating!
    I am going to try the Coloplast bags after all these years of using a plain Hollister bag with a separate seal and they’ve been fine all these years, but it seems time to use some type of vent!
    Thanks for any suggestions.

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