Today is pancake day, where for the general population this will only mean you devouring your body weight in yummy pancakes filled with your favourite sweet treats but if you’re an ostomate then the word pancake may fill you with dread and leave you checking your bag constantly for leaks.
What is pancaking?
Pancaking is when the output from your stoma gets trapped at the top of your bag and is unable to fall down into the bottom on your pouch. If too much output collects at the top of your bag, then this can cause the flange to lift, which can in turn cause your appliance to leak. If pancaking and leaks become a regular issue, then this can also lead to sore peristomal skin.
What causes it?
There are a couple of reasons that can cause pancaking. The first is if there is not enough air in the bag, this can create a vacuum seal which causes everything to get stuck around the opening. If you look on your bag, you may notice a little round filter (or maybe slightly a different shape, depending on your brand), sometimes this can be a little too effective and push out all the air!
The second reason is the consistency of your output. If the output is either too ‘sticky’ or too ‘dry and heavy’ then this can also cause pancaking
Is there anything I can do to prevent it?
Most manufacturers will also provide filter stickers in with your pouches. If you find that you regularly get a ‘vacuum’ effect inside your bag then popping a sticker over the filter can help. You can also add some scrunched up paper to keep the bag open or a drop of olive oil or baby oil can help the output to slide down too.
If it is the consistency of your output that is the issue then it may be worth examining your diet. Check that you are getting enough fluids, you should be aiming to drink around 2 litres a day (6-8 glasses of fluid). Make sure that you are also getting enough fibre in your diet too, by eating regular portions of fruit and vegetables. Whole Wheats, grains, leafy greens are all good sources of fibre. If you have any active bowel disease or struggle with stoma blockages then make sure that you speak to your doctor or a dietician before you adjust your diet.
I hope that little bit of info helps and that for today pancake day is all about the yummy treats and not tummy troubles.