Q: I have had my colostomy for nine months. Everything is going fine, but it has been making a lot of noise lately. It can be embarrassing. What can I do?
A: I am so happy to hear that everything is going well with your new colostomy. Just like anyone else, you still experience gas build up in your gastrointestinal tract, which needs to be released. Since your stoma does not have a sphincter, you do not have complete control of when gas is released. For the first few months after ostomy surgery, generally people do experience more gas and more frequent output than later in their healing process.
Remember, releasing gas is a normal part of a healthy body, but there are a few
things you can do to assist in quieting your stoma!
1. Reduce intake of foods and beverages that cause excessive gas
Of course, there are foods and beverages we consume that may be contributing to the stoma noise. By no means do you have to completely avoid these items, but if you are expecting to have a busy day, you may consider taking one of the anti-gas medications discussed below, or waiting until you are home to nosh on your favorite gassy snack. Foods like beans, broccoli, brussels sprouts and cabbage cause more gas. If you love your gassy foods, try cooking them to reduce their gas producing effects. Presoaking beans before cooking them in a new pot of water can also be useful.
An easy way to remember some gas causing behaviors is to ask yourself, “Am I swallowing a lot of air while doing this?” Some examples of air swallowing activities include gum chewing, drinking through a straw, smoking, and drinking carbonated beverages of any type. If you need your soda, consider pouring yourself a glass and allowing it to sit for a few minutes to reduce carbonation.
2. Ask your doctor about using an anti-gas medication
Any over-the-counter medication with Simethicone in it is useful for relieving gas. Gas X’s website explains that Simethicone “breaks up gas bubbles in your stomach and intestines. Once this trapped gas is broken down, your body can then deal with the gas naturally.” Medications like Beano provide your body with natural enzymes that help your body digest gas causing foods, and is meant to be taken before eating gassy foods.
3. Products to help quiet the noise coming from your stoma
I personally have found that wearing a tighter layer of clothing or a shapewear undergarment (like Spanx) can muffle the sound of a noisy stoma. If I feel a buildup of gas, I also press my hand firmly over my stoma to physically muffle the sound.
This has been very effective for me. There are a few products on the market that are specifically designed for quieting a noisy stoma. One is called a Stoma Stifler (www.stomastifler.com). The Stoma Stifler describes itself as a “noise suppression and stoma guard” product. This product ships worldwide and is made out of a renewable source! It is sold for $158 on their website.
I hope these suggestions give you a few new options to try to quiet a noisy stoma!