I don’t fart. That’s actually one of the perks of having an ostomy is that you no longer have to deal with the embarrassment of accidentally letting one slip. However, like everyone else who still has a colon and a normal digestive tract, we still have to let out the gas at some point. And it’s a bit of a strange experience because you don’t feel it coming. You don’t know it’s there until it, well… until it comes out. And just like non-colonless people, it’s not always quiet.
So overall, when you’re dealing with gas in your ostomy, there are two main things you have to look out for:
Letting the bag get too full of air. This mostly occurs at night. For me, I usually wake up in the morning with a bag full of air (and other things…). On occasion, it could get to the point where it causes a problem, such as causing a leak or even pulling the bag off of you. This is why it’s important to watch what you eat prior to bed. So you should be cautious beans, broccoli, starchy breads and pastas, and especially soft drinks. All of these can cause gas buildup and could potentially cause an issue for you overnight. Also, I try to refrain from eating too close to bedtime. My deadline I give myself is 1 1/2 hours before bedtime, but really that’s still cutting it close. I truly prefer to be finished eating more like 2 1/2 hours before heading to bed, with perhaps a small snack shortly beforehand, because this can get your digestive tract moving and you can actually go ahead and get some of it emptied out before bed.
Most bags have a filter, which does help some with letting the gas out, but it’s pretty minimal help. One thing you can try to help with the gas buildup is “burping” the bag, or basically opening up the end of the bag and letting out some of the gas. However, you have to be very careful when doing this or you could wind up with a big mess on your hands. (Yes, unfortunately, I have dealt with this before.) Try to open only a corner and you don’t want to do this when the bag is full of lots of other stuff. Also, you won’t want to do this in any sort of public setting because you will be releasing a pretty potent cloud of gas that you can only blame on the dog so many times.
Your stoma making farting noises. I fully realize this is a major concern for people who have an ostomy or are considering getting one. But hopefully I can alleviate your fears by saying that, in my experience, nearly all of the time it is quiet. Most often the bag just silently fills up with air. You won’t feel it coming out, you’ll just notice the bag inflating. But there is that rare occasion where some noise will sneak out. The hardest part is that it completely sneaks up on you. You don’t have any warning or any chance to hold it in. It’s just suddenly there.
However, it doesn’t quite sound like a normal fart. It’s a very difficult noise to describe, but it’s not extremely loud usually. The times that is has happened, I just place my hand over my stoma, because sometimes it’ll continue to make noise, but the pressure from your will keep it quiet. If somebody hears, I usually just say something like, “Sorry, my stomach,” and nobody has every given it a second glance. And I will say that out of the 2 1/2 years that I’ve been living with an ostomy, this has only happened a handful of times, so don’t let it worry you too much.
There are, however, two instances (that I have found) where it does happen more frequently. The first was right after my surgery. For the first few weeks, as my body was adjusting to the new ostomy, I had a lot more gas then I have now. But even then, it was mostly just the bag filling up and not that it was making noise. I had to be careful overnight because it did cause a leak several times. If you are worried about it, it might be worthwhile to set an alarm for the middle of the night to check on it and empty the bag if needed. I never did that and was fine for the most part, but it is an option if this is something that really concerns you. And after a few weeks, your insides will settle down and it won’t happen as often.
The other instance was after my ileoscopy. In this procedure they pump in a lot of air, so there was a LOT of noise afterwards. I mean, it was pretty bad, so I would just be prepared for that to happen. (Read: Don’t bring anyone you’d be embarrassed for that to happen in front of with you.)
Basically, I think the best advice is just to have a sense of humor about it. I mean, let’s be honest, nobody wants to fart in public, but it happens. And you just have to learn to roll with it and to laugh it off, if need be. The plus side is that it will happen to you much less often than your colon-filled friends (especially in the bathroom).
Have you had any funny and/or embarrassing instances of passing gas? Any tips or tricks to dealing with the noise? What about dealing with a bag full of hot air?