Help: My ostomy pouch smells! What can I do?
Talking about foul odours isn’t a topic you’d want to bring up at the dinner table, but it is a topic many ostomy wearers are interested in.
You Are Not Alone
Trust us when we say you are not the first, nor will you be the last ostomy wearer worried about odour. Millions of ostomy wearers have the same concern.
After your ostomy surgery, it’s natural to be worried about odours and gas. When the skin barrier isn’t properly adhered to the skin to create a seal, your ostomy can leak odour, gas, and yes, even stool or urine under the barrier.
The good news is there are a few simple hacks to stop embarrassing moments from popping up at the worst possible time. In this article, we’ll go over these steps, so read on.
Choose An Ostomy Pouch With Odour-Barrier Film
First things first: Start with the ostomy pouch itself. Luckily, today’s advanced ostomy pouches are made with odour-barrier film. This keeps odour contained inside the pouch.
Does that mean you’ll never smell a thing? Not quite. You will still notice odour, but only when you are emptying or changing your pouch. If there’s odour at any other time, it may be because the pouch isn’t sealed correctly, so check for leakage.
Most ostomy pouches have an integrated odour-proof filter that allows for gas release that can be carefully controlled.
Be Mindful Of What You Eat
Naturally, the food you eat can increase the amount of odour or gas your body produces. Since everyone’s body reacts differently, you’ll need to pay special attention to what you consume and what kind of effect it has.
If you’ve had an ostomy, there are a few foods that can cause an increase of gas inside your ostomy bag. Most of these foods are foods that are high in soluble fibre or have a lot of sugars. The following foods have a bad rep when it comes to ostomies and odours, so try and limit (or avoid) them:
- Dairy Products
- Brussel Sprouts
Good to know: Before changing your diet, talk to your doctor. You can find a more complete list of foods and their effects on an ostomy here, courtesy of the United Ostomy Associations of America.
Foods That Can Prevent Odour
- Orange Juice
- Cranberry Juice
- Tomato Juice
- Drinking enough water daily
- Eating yogurt or taking probiotics
The foods you eat will contribute to gas production.
Empty Your Ostomy Pouch Often
Another tried-and-tested way to avoid ostomy odour is to empty your ostomy pouch regularly. It’s a no-brainer that when you let waste build-up, the odours will become stronger.
Experts recommend you try to empty your ostomy bag whenever it gets to be about a third or half full. Leaving the pouch any longer can cause it to become heavier and could loosen the seal on your appliance, which causes odour and waste to leak out.
The best time to adjust your pouching system is first thing in the morning before you have eaten or drunk something.
Use An Odour Eliminator
There are countless odour eliminators in many forms available on the market, including spray, liquid, and gel form. A few sprays or drops of these deodorants can be placed into a pouch to help eliminate odours associated with an ostomy.
Some even lubricate the interior of the pouch to make emptying easier.
A Note On Prescription Drugs
Some medications and dietary supplements can make maintaining good hygiene more difficult. They have the potential to alter the colour, odour, or quality of your output. And non-prescription drugs, such as antacids, may cause constipation or diarrhoea in people who have colostomies or ileostomies. Before taking any drug or supplement, consult with your doctor or pharmacist.
Try A New Ostomy Bag
If you’ve tried all of the above and are still experiencing embarrassing ostomy odour, talk to your doctor or ostomy nurse about trying a new ostomy bag. You might benefit from trying a different type of pouch. There are options for one-piece and two-piece systems, and it could be beneficial trying both to see what works best for you. There are also options for disposable pouches if you’d prefer to replace the bag rather than empty your pouch throughout the day.
All of the different products involved in an ostomy pouch system should work together to give you an air-tight seal that prevents any leaks or odours from escaping.