Bad smell is one of the most important concerns of ostomates. Indeed it’s a big issue as you don’t want to smell your poop throughout the day. Also, unpleasant odor keeps people away from you. Usually, if a colostomy bag is properly fitted, it does not cause any smell. But if in the middle of your party, you notice some unpleasant odor that’s arising from you, then there might be some causes that can be resolved easily.
A stoma is an opening in your abdomen at which a colostomy bag is attached to receive and hold stool content that is passing from the large intestine. Since the colostomy bags are meant to hold smelly bodily output, they are designed using charcoal filters that reduce the smell of pouch content.
If you notice an unpleasant smell there must be two possible reasons behind it, your pouch content is leaking or your pouch is not securely fitted to the stoma.
This article will highlight all the factors contributing to the colostomy bag smell and how we can resolve these issues.
WHY DOES A COLOSTOMY BAG SMELL SO BAD?
With advancements in everything, colostomy bags have also advanced, and manufacturers have started designing colostomy pouches with charcoal filters that neutralize the smell. The purpose of these filters is to ensure that the people around you won’t be able to smell your stool.
Due to some leakage issues between the bag and skin, especially under the flange, a bad odor starts arising. A flange is a sticky base that sticks the pouch to your body.
WHAT ARE THE POSSIBLE REASONS FOR THE BAD SMELL FROM COLOSTOMY BAG?
A colostomy bag can emit a bad odor due to various factors related to the digestive process and the collection of waste in the bag. Here are the possible reasons:
Leakage or seepage:
This is one of the most common causes of bad odor from ostomy pouch. Be it an ileostomy, urostomy, or colostomy pouch; always make sure that it securely adheres to your peristomal skin. When the skin barrier doesn’t securely adhere to the skin, it fails to create a proper seal. Consequently, your ostomy can leak, allowing odor, gas, and sometimes even stool or urine to escape from under the barrier, causing discomfort and potential embarrassment.
Faulty pouching system:
Pouching systems with damaged or expired equipment do not provide leak prevention effectively. Remember; to check the expiry date before using any product. Also always buy pouching systems from reliable manufacturers.
Gut bacteria that are present in our digestive tract continue to break down waste inside the colostomy bag. Due to this gases such as hydrogen sulfide and ammonia are released which creates an unpleasant odor.
Breakdown of Protein and Sulfur:
The breakdown of proteins and sulfur-containing compounds during digestion leads to the release of unpleasant odors. Food that contains high sulfur includes onion, garlic, fish, and meat.
Insufficient water intake can promote concentrated and stronger-smelling stool in the colostomy bag.
If the colostomy bag has been worn for a long time, waste can accumulate and intensify the odor.
Improper cleaning of the ostomy bag and peristomal skin can lead to the release of a foul smell.
Pancaking is one of the prominent problems of colostomy bags in which the inside layers of the pouch stick together and stool doesn’t fall to the bottom. Pan caking blocks the filter and causes a leak of pouch content that leads to a bad odor.
STRATEGIES TO PREVENT COLOSTOMY BAG ODOR
The odor from the colostomy bag is indeed a noticeable problem that should be addressed immediately as it greatly impacts the individual’s comfort and confidence. Here are some strategies that you can use to resolve the bad odor issue:
STRATEGY #1: ASSURE THAT OSTOMY POUCH IS PROPERLY SEALED
When you notice any bad smell do check the seal and make sure that seal should be properly fitted to the periostomal skin that is the skin around your stoma.
While applying your skin barrier, always make sure that the skin around your stoma should be dry and clean. Do not use any product that irritates your skin as this will disturb the adhesive property of the barrier.
STRATEGY #2: USE ODOR ELIMINATORS or DEODORIZER
Odor eliminators neutralize any bad smell that develops in the ostomy pouch, especially when you are changing your ostomy pouch. Odor eliminators should be used when your pouching system has properly adhered to the skin. Similarly, deodorants are also a good choice; they stop the smell as soon as it starts arising. You just have to spray it inside your pouch.
Also, use a high-quality colostomy pouch that comes with integrated filters that neutralize any bad odor that develops inside the pouch
STRATEGY #3: MAKE A PROPER SCHEDULE FOR EMPTYING POUCH
In order to maintain good health and hygiene it is advisable to regularly change your colostomy bag as it may also promote bad odor, no matter how expensive the colostomy pouch you are using. You must have to change the ostomy bag before it starts to leak out.
According to the ostomy nurse, the Colostomy pouch should be emptied when it’s 1/3rd or 1/2 full as it will reduce the pressure on your ostomy pouch.
STRATEGY #4: AVOID SOME ODOR PRODUCING FOOD
Some foods are supposed to increase gas production in the bowel and hence produce a more awful smell in your colostomy pouch. These foods should be avoided for a confident and comfortable ostomy experience. These are:
Onion, fish beans, coffee, alcohol, fried foods, asparagus. Apart from this, by doing certain modifications in your diet you can get rid of bad smells such as consuming fresh fruits and vegetables, taking probiotics, and having plenty of water.
Always consult your health care professional or ostomy nurse before consuming any new supplement.
Colostomy bags do smell and that’s an awkward situation for any ostomates. The smell is due to the natural digestive process and the breakdown of waste within the pouch and unfortunately when the content of the pouch starts leaking due to any reason, then it becomes embarrassing. In order to maintain and reduce the odor from colostomy bags, ostomates should properly seal their pouching system, maintain good hygiene, and regularly empty the bag. Moreover, using colostomy bags with built-in filters may also help a lot in reducing bad odor. If the odor persists, then consult your ostomy nurse for better advice.