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10 Expert Tips to Stop Stoma Pancaking (Even while Sleeping)

10 Expert Tips to Stop Stoma Pancaking (Even while Sleeping)

Stoma pancaking is an unpleasant surprise that ostomates frequently endure during their journey. And unfortunately, it has nothing to do with tasty pancakes in the morning. 

A pancaking stoma, where output does not drop into the bag, is a common source for leakages and for sure for unpleasant and annoyed feelings. 

If you are one of those ostomates who is tired of this, and instead want to enjoy a restful night and daytime, we got you! We have gathered these 10 tested tips to help you be aware and ready to recognize the reason behind your pancaking stoma. With those tricks, you will be able to solve the problem all by yourself. So in short, this is how you can stop your stoma from pancaking right now:

  1. Try to put air in your bag
  2. Cover the filter to avoid vacuumingç
  3. Use stoma bridges or add rolled toilet paper
  4. Find the right appliance fo you
  5. Use a lubricant deodorant
  6. Squeeze your bag
  7. Increase fluid and fibre intake
  8. Do not eat right before bed time
  9. Measure your stoma frequently and cut the wafer to the right size
  10. Avoid tight clothes

In order to find out what is the best for your specific situation, you should have a detailed version of those tips and learn about what stoma pancaking exactly is and why it occurs.

What is Stoma Pancaking?

Stoma pancaking occurs when the stool sticks on and around the stoma and does not fall down into the ostomy bag. Subsequently, as more faecal matter comes out, which has no place to go but to push through the adhesive wafer. This therefore often leads to leakage and sore skin. Additionally, because of this pressure buildup, you even might risk that the pouch falls off its place.

doctor

What is the reason for stoma pancaking?

There are various reasons for why you experience pancaking. Most commonly, it is because your stool is too thick and pasty or because of an occuring vacuum effect which makes the layers of the bag stick onto the stoma. 

To find out more about the reasons behind it and your best suitable solutions for this issue, don’t miss to check out our 10 tips below.

Coping with a Pancaking Stoma

Ostomates frequently experience this troublesome issue (especially at night) where the output is not falling down properly into the pouch, causing more build up at the stoma and hence, also leakage.

Because of that, cleaning it up and emptying your pouch will be more tedious and time-consuming. You might feel a sense of loss thinking about why you keep encountering this incident and how to tackle it. But we have the solution right here: we will now show you the 10 most effective tips to stop stoma pancaking:

holding hands

Tip 1: Put some air in the bag

If you have a pouch that has no filter, you can simply blow some air inside it and pull the front and back walls apart from each other before applying it. By doing so, you are preventing the bag layers from collapsing and sticking together. This will allow the stool to slide freely and without resistance down the pouch.

 

Tip 2: Cover the filter to avoid vacuuming

Ironically, some types of pouch filters function too effectively and remove most of the air from your bag. This creates a vacuum inside, and the pouch becomes too flat against the abdomen.

Here, you can try to cover the filter from the outside (typically located at the top of the bag) with little plaster-like stickers that usually come inside the pouch box. 

This has dual benefit:

 1. First, you prevented the bag from falling flat and avoided vacuuming by trapping air inside. So, the stool will slide easily down the pouch.

 2. Second, it will give you full control over the odor when bowel motion has started. This provides you time to go to the bathroom and remove the sticker partially to let the gas be filtered out.

Take note: Be sure to remove the filter cover at night to avoid accumulation of gases inside the pouch while sleeping. Otherwise you will get to another problem: Then it is not about pancakes but balloons. To find out what ballooning is and how to tackle this issue, you should check out this article.

 

Tip 3: Use stoma bridges or add some rolled toilet paper

Many ostomates find the solution by adding one of the followings inside the pouch:

  • Stoma bridges: Little sponge cubes designed to fit and stick inside the stoma pouch. 
  • A rolled-up piece of toilet tissue or wet wipes (in a cigarette shape).
  • Cotton wool ball. 

This way, the stoma bag’s inner layers keep being separated enough and prevent the bag from being too flat, which allows the output to fall easily into the pouch.

 

rolled toilet paper

 

Tip 4: Find the proper appliance for you

Consider that the bag that you are currently using might be not the right one for you. Try experimenting with different ones that could solve your problem as they come with different materials and shapes.

Many ostomates found that switching to convex wafers (convexity) helped them to overcome pancaking. They designed these types of bags to provide optimum depth and profile (curved shape) to fit securely and discreetly around the stoma while maintaining a good seal. 

 

Tip 5: Use a lubricant deodorant

Experienced ostomates found it extremely helpful to use lubricating deodorant to ensure the inside of the stoma bag is slippery enough for the stool to slide down easily and prevent pancaking.

Just be sure to apply the lubricating liquid around the wafer side and down into the pouch. Then, try to gently knead the bag gently with your hands to ensure that all the inside walls are lubricated and greasy.

Others found that some home remedies could be as good as the lubricating deodorant. Such as baby oil and vegetable oil (like sunflower or olive oil). Another great alternative is using soap, which many ostomates prefer. Here it is absolutely important to use a stoma specific soap that does not harm the stoma. A ph-autobalanced solution, which is also recommended to clean your stoma itself, is the best option to go. Different to other detergents, it is designed for fragile and sensitive peristomal skin. Therefore, it is free of any substances that could harm your stoma, skin – or pouch! 

And we advise you not to use any other material, as it might reduce the wear time, weaken the adhesive of your pouch seal, or irritate your stoma and skin.

 

Tip 6: Squeeze it!

You may find it difficult in the beginning, but believe me, it really helps when you are having a thick and sticky stool.

Don’t be afraid to try manually pushing and squeezing the stool down to the bottom of the pouch. This is especially important when you are wearing an ostomy wrap or tight-fitting clothes

 

Tip 7: Increase your fluid and fibre intake

Especially if you have a colostomy, your stool will vary greatly from being soft to a sticky consistency every day depending on your diet, hydration, and even the medication that you are taking. Therefore, to make your stool less sticky, you can start by:

  • Avoiding starchy food (like rice, pasta, and potatoes), processed food, peanut and almond butter. 
  • Try increasing your insoluble fibre intake which is found in vegetable, fruits, and whole grains.Those kinds of fibres do not dissolve in digestion, thus, they add bulk to the stool and promote bowel movement and finally prevent thick and dry stool. But those ostomates who are fresh out of surgery should be cautious with this.
  • Consider taking a good probiotic on a daily basis because more studies show that they promote a healthy balance of gut bacteria which have been linked to improving digestive health and immune function.
  • Drinking plenty of liquids will significantly help to soften your stool. By increasing your daily intake of water, fruit juices like apple, grapes, and prune juice, and other fluids.

Each person is unique. The best diet for you will depend on your body, medical condition, and type of the ostomy that you have. 

Basically, if you have a colostomy, you may experience more of a thick output. So, we provide you full information about what to eat in this article.

If you have an ileostomy, you may have more watery stool. Then, we suggest you read our diet tips on how to deal with that in this article.

 

Do not eat right before bed time

Tip 8: Do not eat right before bed time

It doesn’t matter whether you have a colostomy or ileostomy, stoma pancaking at night while sleeping is quite common and frustrating. But you can prevent that by simply planning your meals! We suggest having your dinner in the early evening rather than late night to have a restful and comfortable night. Besides that, consider having your tasty and nutritious food already throughout the day in order to keep your evening meal as light as you can.

 

Tip 9: Measure your stoma and cut the wafer to the right size

Since every stoma is different in size and shape, you will need to measure it and cut the wafer barrier into appropriate size to confirm that your pouch will function effectively and properly. 

If the wafer is too tight around your stoma or even covering part of it, then it may block the passage of your stool and redirect it to get under the wafer and separate it away from your abdomen.

You can download our measurement guide right now: 

 

STOMA SIZE MEASURING GUIDE

measuring guide

 

OVAL STOMA SIZE MEASURING GUIDE
Oval Stoma Measuring Guide To Cut Out

 

Tip 10: Avoid tight clothes

There are few restrictions when it comes to what to wear. Just avoid any tight-fitting clothes that might restrict or obstruct the flow of the output down the pouch. And if you would prefer to wear some tight jeans or pants, then try to size it up a little or use a stretchable material.

Final considerations

We are optimistic that these tips helped you out and pancaking will not be as hard as you once thought. Restoring your restful good night sleep and feeling a sense of security in your daily life while enjoying your out and about with the loved ones.

nurse in a white dress

FAQ

Could you still not find the answer to your question? We have collected the most frequently asked questions related to stoma pancaking:

 

My stoma bag is still pancaking despite trying to blow air, using lubricants, changing my diet, and doing the filter trick. What should I do?

If your stoma bag keeps pancaking, try using a different type of pouching system. We recommend trying convexity as its unique design allows the stoma to stick out more into the bag and prevents the fecal output from going under the wafer seal. Thus, ostomates find it extremely helpful in dealing with pancaking.

 

 What is the most useful tip that works for most ostomates in preventing stoma pancaking?

The most important tip that ostomates find useful to try first to stop a pancaking stoma is to block the filter and keep some air inside the pouch. This is, as the most common reason for stoma pancaking is a vacuum effect that makes the wall of the bag stick together.

 

Which alternative can I use if I don’t have a lubricant deodorant?

The most common alternative is baby oil or vegetable oil as it is really cheap and widely available in the market. Besides that, it does not harm your stoma. Alternatively, we recommend using a drop of a stoma specific detergent. As this is used to clean the stoma, it is safe to not harm it nor the walls of your stoma bag and works perfectly as a lubricant.

 

 How to loosen stoma output to prevent pancaking?

Especially if you have a colostomy, you might have issues with your colostomy bag pancaking due to a thick and pasty output. In order to loosen your stoma output to prevent pancaking, you can try to drink prune or grapefruit juice.

Also, you should limit food that thickens your output like bananas. For more information on dietary suggestions, check our full article here.

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