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February 22, 2017

Why Do Ostomy Bags Burst and How to Prevent It

You’re looking to prevent one of the most uncomfortable (in more ways that one) situations an ostomate can have. You’ve heard (or imagined) the stories, whether on forums or on other ostomy blogs and communities. And while the tales range from overtly descriptive to downright slapstick, they are often not backed by the details you really need. For instance, why ostomy bags burst, and how to make sure it never happens to you. We can answer the first part here. Aside from physical impact (a hard fall, etc.) your bag bursts because of excessive gas accumulation.

Today, InnerGood is going to expand (no pun intended) on this subject to provide you with insight into preventive measures that you can take.

5 Things You Need to Know to Keep Your Ostomy Pouch from Bursting

1. Stay Away from (or minimize consumption of) Gas-Inducing Food

This tip is about as logical as it gets, but it’s good to have a reminder, especially when there are some culinary culprits that you may not have anticipated. While everyone reacts to foods differently (testing dishes and time will be your guide) we encourage you to reference this list of gas-inducing foods if your ostomy bag seems to be ballooning through the day:


      • Beans – Dried lima, navy, borlotti, and kidney beans in particular.
      • Solid Dairy – Cheese, ice cream, yogurt. Consider non-dairy alternatives.
      • Whole Grains – Wheat and oats.
      • Some Vegetables – Asparagus, brussels sprouts, broccoli, onions, cabbage and cauliflower induce gas. However, as they are healthy, be sure to consider green alternatives (kale, spinach, etc.) and have a supplement plan in place to make sure you are receiving the necessary vitamins and minerals that key greens provide.
      • Some Fruits – Apples, peaches, pears, and prunes induce gas. They too have tremendous health benefits, so consider alternative produce and health supplements that provide antioxidants.
      • Hard Candy and Chewing Gum – Candies that contain sorbitol and/or sweeteners induce gas. Chewing gum that have been sweetened with sugar alcohols such as sorbitol, mannitol, and xylitol also contribute to gas build-up. Chewing gum poses another “gas threat” which is expanded upon in item #3 below.
      • Processed Foods – Packaged foods, especially those that contain high levels of fructose and lactose.


2. Stay Away from Gas-Inducing Drinks

Beverages that you may be consuming on a daily basis may also contribute to your gas (and ostomy bag) problem. Reference the list below and note if you may need to make cuts in your beverage consumption habits:


      • Soda – All sodas are carbonated and should be avoided.
      • Alcohol – All carbonated varieties, including beer, champagne, and wine coolers. Drinking any alcohol can cause bloating in your lower abdomen, so must be consumed in moderation. View these ostomy-conscious tips to alcohol consumption.
      • Coffee – Coffee (regular and decaffeinated) can cause gastritis, an inflammation of the stomach lining that can result in bloating. Consume in moderation.

3. Watch HOW You Eat (Literally)

What is surprising to many, is that it’s not just what you eat that causes gas, but how you eat it.

Your ostomy bag may be ballooning because of how you are chewing and swallowing. Follow your mother’s orders and don’t talk with your mouth full. In fact, avoid letting air in altogether (within reason). That means you should cut out or minimize consumption activities conducive to the influx of air. This includes smoking (especially bad for ostomates, regardless), chewing gum or tobacco, eating rapidly, and swallowing large pieces of food that hasn’t been properly chewed.

4. Prepare for Activities that May Expand Your Bag

While we absolutely recommend that you live life to the max and expand your horizons, take note of any activity that may cause your ostomy bag to balloon. This is a small concern, but steps can be taken when you live an adventurous life that has you up at extremely high elevations. For example, if you’re skydiving, follow these tips to keep your ostomy pouch from expanding at a high altitude. If you’re a frequent flyer, take note to change and burp your ostomy bag before departure, and vent it before removal to prevent problems in the air.

5. Buy Ostomy Bag Brands that You Can Trust

Last but most certainly not least, is to make sure you’re buying ostomy supplies from a reputable resource. That way you know that the pouches have been properly vetted to ensure the highest possible quality. The better the quality, the less likely they will burst, even when you’ve let your consumption habits (noted above) slip a bit. When it comes to ostomy bags in Canada, InnerGood is that reputable resource. Review the key reasons why you want to choose ostomy pouch brands carried by Inner Good.

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12 Replies to “Why Do Ostomy Bags Burst and How to Prevent It”

  1. In my experience (4 years ostiomate, active sports), the bag has never burst (Convatec 2 piece),
    it just blows out the weakest link. (skin to flange or 2 part separation).
    The CAUSE of pressure is the buildup of gas. ( mainly vegetarian , so beans , califlower ,, all the things your body needs but YOU need to aviod unless you find another solution).
    My solution is to allow the gas to release. The next problem becomes: the gas may be toxic. (possbily explosive if lit, ha ha)
    A solution (for Ostomates) is Liner Bags (with piholes) and filters (Coloplast Filtroders)
    the liner bags are lightweight compostable material that hold the thick stuff and let the gas
    into the regular bag which has the stick-on filter allowing venting.
    This doesnt solve an overfull or impact issues but does reduce to managable.

    I always swap back to a sealed non filtered bag (with liner) for swimming
    or with smaller pinholes for scuba diving (when the water is clear we shore dive almost daily in winter month in Maui). (never had an issue , even at extreme pressure changes).
    Works for me.

  2. I just recently had a colostomy. I appreciate the information regarding the pouches bursting. I have had eight of them burst on me and needless to say it is very frustrating not to mention embarrassing. When ever I would tell my nurse about it the comment is always “but this never happens” which only frustrates me more. Your comments regarding this has been most helpful and encouraging Thank You.

  3. Hi,
    My mom, 83 y/o, has colostomy bag for more than 2weeks now, exploded last night. Though staff at rehab cleaned her already, my sister had to clean her again to make sure no bacteria around her that will cause infection.
    It’s her first time to experience bursting ,the bag, your information will help us not to happen this again.

    1. Hi Rowena,

      Thanks for sharing. We hope that this information can help our community in anyway we can.

      Best wishes with this new challenge for your mother.

  4. Try Salts bags plus eakin rings,they are quite reliable. I have used them for 3 years now without problems .

  5. Hi my nan has a colostomy bag and has had it for about 3 months now and it literally bursts every couple of hours she’s eating the right foods because I (her granddaughter) is making her food? Any suggestions? Thankyou xxx

    1. Hi Rachel,

      Sorry to hear about your Nan’s troubles. You should talk to an ET nurse and find a solution. Likely you may need to try different appliances. You can schedule an appointment with our ET Nurse if you are based in Canada. Best wishes.

  6. Hello, my name is Dawn and my 76 year old Mom has had a colostomy bag for a year now, and recently 3 nights in a row her bag has exploded at about 2 am. She is becoming so stressed out and frustrated. Is there anything I could have her try?..
    Thank you

    1. Hi Dawn,

      Thanks for reaching out. The best thing you can do is to schedule an appointment NSWOC Nurse right away.

  7. I had my first temporary ileostomy at 18 years old (which was only made permanent 22 years later in 2015 !). Just want to let people know that once you find the correct pouch for you (+ stomahesive “glue” or orabase “filler” then it’s rare for a bag to burst . Not long after the original ileostomy was performed I think I did the most extreme test possible – was at a theme park on the final day of the season in UK and my pouch was totally full of both waste and air as I had been too busy enjoying rides for around 12 hours. Was just about to go to the toilet to empty/prepare for the 4 hr journey home when the park (Alton Towers) announced that they were going to “open” Oblivion (the new ride for following season) for us to preview just before closing up. I had the choice of jump on the ride and face a 200 ft drop into a black hole with G-force of 4.5 with a full bag of *””” or let my friends and family have fun whilst I went to the toilet. I was still a teenager and had missed a lot of stuff due to time in hospital so I chose the ride . Bag actually held (possibly because protected a little by safety belt from coaster against it…
    Looking back, I can only imagine the awful disaster of if bag had exploded as coaster dropped all that way, face down with at least 12 rows of people behind me as we were at the front

    1. Thanks for sharing this memory with us.
      Ostomy bags sure can hold up more than we first thought. Of course we don’t want to push the pouch limits on the daily, lol, but I too (I’m an ostomate), have done super well!
      Take care, Carly

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