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What is ballooning?

When you swallow food or water, you also swallow a certain amount of air. Most ostomy pouches have charcoal filters built into the bag. These allow the air to be released. However, if the filter capacity cannot handle the amount of air produced, or if the filter has become wet or blocked by the output, ballooning can occur.

What can you do to reduce ballooning?

One of the main ways to reduce ballooning is to reduce the amount of air entering your digestive system.

Remember, we are all different and some foods that increase air for one person is not the same for another.

Your lifestyle

Reducing ballonning

  • Eat regular meals throughout the day

  • Sip drinks and try not to rush your meals

  • Chew food thoroughtly

  • Eating live yoghurt or taking pro-biotics daily can help to balance the bacteria in your digestive system, which in turn can reduce air

You may find:

  • Certain food types such as spicy or high fibre foods and some vegetables (e.g. onions, cabbage, beans) can increase the amount of wind produced.

  • Fizzy (carbonated) drinks lead to an increased amount of air entering the intestine.

  • Other activities such as drinking through straws, drinking from a bottle with a sport cap, chewing gum, smoking, shortness of breath and even snoring can increase the amount of air swallowed.

What to do when you experience ballooning

If ballooning does occur, you can release the air from the pouch in the privacy of a toilet, if you use an open bag or use a two-piece system. Changing the pouch if the filter blocks can also help preventing ballooning. Finally, it may be worth trying another type of ostomy pouch and filter type.

Hints & Tips in relation to your appliance...

  • Check the contents of the bag have not soaked into the filter. If this is happening, you may need to change your pouch more often. Ensure your bag changes are within the recommendations provided by your stoma care nurse.

  • If you use an open (drainable) bag or a two-piece pouch system, release the wind from the pouch regularly during the day.

  • On some pouches, the filter can get wet from the outside, when swimming or showering. If this is happening, try covering with a ‘filter cover’ (which is found in your box of bags.


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