Having a colostomy means making some changes in the way you live, but it doesn't have to put in an end to a normal, active life. Flatulence, along with diarrhoea, are probably the two conditions that worry colostomates the most. The fear of embarrassing smells and sounds have kept many a colostomate at home. It doesn't have to be that way. By eating a well-balanced diet and avoiding some foods, you can gain control of your digestion.
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Choose a high quality colostomy bag that has a gas outlet and a deodorising ring with a vertical vent and gas outlet. Empty the bag whenever it is half to one-third full. Clean the end of the bag to prevent unwanted odours.
Eat a diet that includes high-fibre foods such as oatmeal, cereal and whole-grain breads as well as fruits and vegetables to avoid constipation. Try these foods in small portions at first to avoid cramping and diarrhoea. Add these foods to the diet slowly over a period of time.
Do not skip meals, as this can create flatulence in colostomates.
Avoid gas-producing foods such as asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, onions, beans, eggs and fish. Avoid melons, beer and fatty foods when trying to control flatulence.
Reduce the chance of flatulence by eating slowly and avoiding the use of straws, as swallowed air can cause flatulence. Avoid carbonated drinks at least early when the colostomy is new and healing. Eat six small meals a day to assist digestion.
Add fresh parsley, buttermilk and yoghurt to the diet to reduce flatulence.
Drink six to eight cups of water a daily unless instructed to limit your intake by your heath care provider. Include water, juice and milk in the daily diet. Limit the amount of caffeine such as coffee, tea and soda.
Tips and warnings
- Keep a food journal to pinpoint problem foods that cause flatulence for you.
- Consult a dietitian for assistance in balancing your diet and nutritional needs.
- To decrease the bathroom smell coming from the colostomy pouch, try rinsing it out. You can also add mouthwash or vanilla extract to improve the odour.
- If the flatulence is somewhat noisy, try placing your hand over the bag to muffle the sounds.
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