Help! Ostomy bag fills with air at night, causing leaks!

Oct 30, 2014 1:51 am

I don't know if anyone else has this trouble, but I find that every time I try to sleep at night, my ostomy bag fills up with air to the point where it lifts my appliance and I leak! So I have to try to keep myself awake all night so I can monitor it or set a timer so I am awake every 3 hours to check on it.

It doesn't happen to me during the day, if I take a nap... just at night. It is driving me insane. It is bad enough that I have insomnia, so when I do get a chance to get some sleep, I really want to take advantage of it and I can't because of this.

Does anyone have this problem? Can anyone give me tips on what I can do? I mean, I make sure to cut myself off from food by 5pm and I only take sips of water or something through the night. I even have a bag with a filter that is supposed to stop this from happening. If anyone has any ideas for me, please let me know because I am at my wits' end. I can't tell you how many clothes this problem has ruined, and I have to be sure to sleep either under a chuck from the hospital or a towel, or my sheets get ruined!

Thanks for reading, and hopefully someone will have some ideas because it's driving me nutters!

Oct 30, 2014 9:24 pm

Hi, is this really every night, regardless of what you have eaten during the day? I get the problem, but the severity of it varies, with certain foods a clear no-no! Any thoughts on this? How long have you had your bag? I've heard of people having particular problems in the first few months before things 'settle down'.

I'm afraid like you I find the filter completely ineffective in dealing with this problem!

Best of luck! Chris

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Oct 31, 2014 1:24 am

Literally, almost every single night, I allow myself to fall totally asleep. I wake up to a bag filled with air and, most of the time, a leak. I have had a bag on and off for over 7 years now. I don't eat any veggies at all (I eat veggie pasta when I can to get the vitamins and I will eat artichokes) because it has a hard time putting them out and it gets stuck coming out. I have totally eliminated any food that is even remotely spicy in any way or acidic, except a bit of lemon juice here and there. A nurse had told me that to get gas out, you lie on your left side, and my stoma is on the left side anyway, so I tend to do that a few hours after I eat to try to get any gas out that might possibly be in there, but it's like it enjoys trapping the air until I am totally relaxed asleep. I don't know what to do about it. I even have bags for those that have a heavy output. But it doesn't change. When you are an insomniac like I am, you really enjoy those times when your night medication actually works and you get tired. Yet, I can nap during the day and it doesn't do it.

I have NO CLUE how it is I can help the problem.

Oct 31, 2014 3:34 am

Try avoiding bread, cereal, pasta, any food with grains at all. If you would like to eat those things, eat them early in the day and not after 2:00 PM or so. That should give plenty of time for them to move through you before it is time to sleep. These foods cause a lot of gas for me. Drinking water seems to help and is a good idea anyway.

Oct 31, 2014 4:02 am

Actually, I only eat like once a day and it's usually no later than 2 or 3. I do eat pasta, but never at night. If anything at night, I snack on Cheetos, lol. I have it so ingrained in my head that it's going to leak overnight that I only eat that one meal. And I have been having trouble with getting food stuck in my throat, so I don't eat because of that too.

Stories of Living Life to the Fullest from Ostomy Advocates I Hollister
Oct 31, 2014 4:56 pm

Just try an experiment for one day. Do not eat anything made from flour or potatoes. No breads, cakes, pies, Cheetos, chips, etc.... Nothing made from flour or grains. And no sugar or sweetener of any kind. If your system is anything like mine, you will notice much less gas. Then you can add those things back in small quantities at an early time in the day so that you won't have the gas at night. You can eat three times a day. You might just have to avoid or greatly limit the foods I have mentioned. It works very well for me. It was hard getting used to because I love all that stuff. Digestive enzymes might help. For example, try Beano. Good luck.

Oct 31, 2014 7:23 pm

Some interesting ideas there I might try myself.

I would say that eating three times a day is a better policy than eating just once. The idea of digestive enzymes/'bugs' etc is worth trying too, as these should help the intestine to function more normally: I was told that the stoma tends to lose these things and they need to be replenished.

Oh, and I drink lots of water - all drinks here come in 1pt mugs!

Nov 01, 2014 6:51 am

It sounds like you have an ileostomy? I have had ileo since 2010 - carbs of any kind cause gas in healthy people........same thing in the bag...I'm Italian and have had to cut out bread, pasta, rice....I have Scleroderma (CREST) and acid reflux is a huge problem. I have had to cut out wine as well...

Try it carb-free for a few days. It worked for me.

ron in mich
Nov 01, 2014 3:08 pm

Hi Allie, I've had my ileo for 30 years. And I found that if I go to bed hungry or on an empty stomach, I produce more gas and have a bag full of air in the morning. I eat 4 small meals a day and have a snack in the evening.

Nov 01, 2014 7:23 pm

Hi Allie, sorry to hear that you are struggling with bag inflation. In order for me to keep the bag more or less deflated, I use one with a filter. Saying that, I usually have to change the bag every day because the filter gets clogged and will not work. As much as I enjoy eating cucumbers, I've found that they make the pouch inflate, especially while I am sleeping. My friend (with an ileo too) suggested removing the skin of the cucumber and eat the English style and it helps some. I must be very relaxed while snoozing because several times I woke up thinking I could float away. The pouch was totally inflated and not necessarily with anything. I am a light sleeper too so any noise or vibration in my pouch, I wake up. Some nights, especially early post-op, I was kept awake by the activity and it was frustrating because I was so tired. Anyway, I try to eat early in order to have things calming down by bedtime. I also avoid, as much as possible, all carbonated beverages including sparkling wine and beer. This aggravates the situation. Lastly, I found that if I don't eat for 6 hrs plus and then eat, I produce more air/gas than usual in the bag, probably because my stomach is empty and I am hungry. Fortunately, things have calmed over the last 15 months as I am learning more about my digestion cycle. I think that it may have taken my body some time to adjust to the new routine too. Hope this helps - good luck to you. LH

Nov 02, 2014 4:24 am

Hi Allie - I have had an ileostomy for 30 years and have found that if I go to bed hungry, I produce more gas. If I'm nervous or stressed about anything, I also produce more. I drink decaffeinated tea before I go to bed and try to relax. That seems to help. Good luck and sending over the Sandman to your house to bring on some restful sleep for you!


Past Member
Nov 02, 2014 10:26 pm

Hi Allie, if you have an ileostomy, I think it's better if you have more than one meal a day (I agree with Ron in Michigan and ChrisP). I have had an ileo for 6 years and I eat at least every four hours, even just a snack like cheese and crackers I count as a small meal. The only time I get gas is when I haven't eaten for an extended period (like first thing in the morning) or have not been drinking enough water.

Then if I do get a ballooning bag, I just carefully undo the tailpiece (making sure it's pointing up!) and let the air out. I use filtered bags but believe the filters are pretty much useless, particularly with an ileo as they have a tendency to leak. I just cover the filter with tape (any kind) and even then the bag doesn't balloon any more than usual (and definitely doesn't leak). I can get 5-6 days wear time from the whole appliance by doing this.

I also think the fact that I eat regularly and drink plenty of water helps me sleep right through the night for at least 6-7 hours without having to get up and empty, and on average I empty the bag about 5 times a day.

Below is a link which I found helpful when I first had surgery.

Nov 03, 2014 5:35 pm

My thing is that my ostomy is very recessed, so when it outputs, it burns so much... So I have it in my head that if I only eat once a day, it won't output a lot and then it won't burn. It's psychological on my part, I guess, but... Hopefully after Wednesday... I won't have that trouble since I will have had it redone. Fingers crossed.

Nov 04, 2014 2:48 pm

Best wishes and prayers for a successful surgery!

ron in mich
Nov 04, 2014 4:29 pm

Good luck with your surgery on Wednesday and fast recovery.

Mary Ann
Nov 09, 2014 7:41 pm

Gas-X, simethicone works for me. I would get up in the middle of the night to empty my bag, but these work well.

Nov 11, 2014 10:16 pm

Thanks, I will try that. I do empty my bag.

Nov 12, 2014 2:00 am

Use a pouch with a filter. These let the gas out gradually and the filter does not allow any odor to escape.

Jun 28, 2016 7:08 am

Popping an antacid has helped me.

Jun 30, 2016 3:35 pm

I use a pouch with a filter and it helps with air. BTW - I change my pouch to a brand new one every or every other day because the filter clogs. I have tried everything to eliminate the problem but the filter clogs so a pouch change is necessary for me. Hope this helps. LH

Mar 20, 2018 5:18 am

It happens to me often throughout the 50 years I've had my ileostomy. Occasionally, I had stomach pains along with all that "gas," and a long time ago, after having X-rays, the doctor noted that I swallowed a lot of air when talking... It seems I was swallowing air at night as well. He prescribed Lorazepam, and the problem diminished. It's happening again these last few years, but I don't want to take more (anxiety) medications. What did work was a solution I needed when I had back surgery and needed to sleep on my stomach. I attached a long plastic bag (these days they have them for colostomates, called "sleeves") to the spout of my ostomy pouch. I used a hollow tube (pill container) and rubber bands, and then sleeping on a foam U-shaped pillow on my belly allowed the pouch to lay on the bed along with the long bag. For the few months I had to sleep on my belly, I didn't have a leak or an accident. You might want to experiment with trying to extend the bag... to give the air/gas a place to go. I hope this helps.
BTW, it still happens to me, but I sleep in 3-4 hour cycles and have trained myself to get up and empty during the night. A few times, however, I've been too lazy, and since I live and sleep alone, I open the pouch in bed and let the air out. Whoops... big mistake. I've done it in my sleep and didn't close the pouch carefully and "dumped waste" in my bed, on my blankets, as well as on the carpeted floor. If you ever have that problem... remember that hydrogen peroxide straight and water will remove the stains....

Oct 08, 2018 11:55 am

Chirag... I am looking for a soulmate... from Gujarat. Ahmedabad. I am having a permanent ileostomy... Please help if anybody can.

Apr 06, 2019 1:54 am

I have the bag balloon to a point where it could burst, but somehow I manage to wake up and drain it before doing so. Two times during the night, it happens. For two years now, I simply can't get a good night's sleep. When you feel that thing blow up like a balloon, it sure as heck gets you out of bed. You know,... has anyone ever thought that simply laying flat on your back could be the problem? Or on your side? It is my guess if you fell asleep in a chair, upright somewhat, would things be different? Those vent charcoal bags are worthless if your output is liquid. Once wet, they are useless. Also, try the largest bag out there. I do. It helps. I never had it balloon to a point where the wafer leaks though. I guess being a light sleeper helps. It's so annoying. I want to take something to help me sleep but afraid I will mess the bed. I also use a liner under the sheets. Why hasn't someone tinkered with the idea of a pressure pop-it valve attached to the bag specifically for nighttime use? Somehow sitting upright makes me believe less gas will occur, but I haven't tried that yet. A pop-it valve spring-loaded sounds clever until liquid comes out with it.

ron in mich
Apr 06, 2019 1:18 pm

Hi Allie, I think the problem is an empty stomach that is creating gas. I know when I am hungry, I tend to burp a lot, so maybe you need to try a light snack a couple of hours before bedtime.

Apr 12, 2022 7:24 pm
Reply to alliejmw2

First of all, I've been wearing Sen Sura Mio by Coloplast for 14 years. I also eat gluten-free, which helps a lot with bag blowing up. If you are going to eat around 7 or 8 o'clock, that's going to do it for you. I have a divot in the middle of my stomach from having a baby 40 years ago. I do not like the click and type pouch. It hurts my stomach only because I have a hernia right by it. I've been buying barrier rings by Coloplast. They go according to size. It's always important to get the measuring guide out and measure your stoma because that's how air gets inside too. So the next time you go to change your pouch, measure your stoma. Mine is 25 centimeters. It comes in a little round package with about 25 rings in it. I only clean my skin with a stomach adhesive wipe to get rid of the residue and I also use a cold wet paper towel. I basically use water to clean up. I don't get the pre-cut wafers any longer because they used to be a little bit bigger and I lost weight and it got smaller. I get scissors made by Coloplast that are made to cut a wafer. I've had those for about 10 years. I used the stick-in-seal pouch. Most people don't, but I like them. They're so comfortable on my stomach. I even peeled it off say three days past because these pouches do get soiled and put on a new one on the barrier/wafer; which will last another 3 days. I change the wafer every 6 to 7 days. I also buy Brava strips and put them all around my wafer/barrier. It really helps with leakage. You do have to make sure you have a snug fit around your stoma when applying a barrier ring or you can use paste. Coloplast sent me a stick-in paste formula but I did not like it so I'm back to my barrier ring. They make three sizes. I am in the second one which is pre-cut at 25 centimeters. I think it's almost 27. I even go swimming with no issues but then I have to change everything say in 5 days. This has been working for me for 10 years. I do have a serious problem with the bag blowing up when I eat gluten so I had to stop that about eight years ago until my girlfriend said maybe you're gluten-free. So I went to a Gastro doctor and he tested me and he said you're not celiac but you do have a terrible gluten intolerance. I never was able to have the reversal and the surgeon that did the procedure called Hartmans cut my short bowel too short and therefore air gets in there. He did it that way because he thought I was going to have the reversal but I couldn't because I have kidney disease. They thought I was going into renal failure but of course now I'm in it not from that just from other things. I now do home hemodialysis at home. It will be a year in May. My care partner, my husband, helps me. He puts the needles in my arms and he runs the machine. Today I have off. Your stomach will change sizes constantly even mine did after 14 years. I stay away from fruits & vegetables late at night. They make many things for the gas in your pouch like Gas-X and Beano. They never worked for me, that's when I decided to go gluten-free. Now that I'm doing dialysis, I have another strict diet. I can eat proteins before I couldn't. I was on a plant-based diet but let me tell you, it did not help the ileostomy. I have levels I have to look for. I still eat veggies for dinner around 5:30 PM. I eat low-carb vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, peas. The foods I stay away from are mushrooms, any cold raw vegetable, coconut. I can't eat popcorn, only if I'm drinking water. I cannot eat regular corn at all. That pulls my pouch off instantly. We have to stay away from a lot of fiber. I also stay away from nuts of any type except pistachios, which are softer, so I eat a few of those and I like cashews, they are also softer but regular peanuts are too hard. Water is very acidic and gassy. If I'm going to drink water, it has to be cold water from the refrigerator. I only drink 8 ounces at a time and I sip it. When I wake up in the morning, I'll have an 8-ounce cold water on an empty stomach. The moment I start eating, it blows up. I have to wait about an hour, then I eat. It is a very challenging diet for me. Patti. I will get a picture up soon.

Apr 12, 2022 7:36 pm
Reply to warrior

They do make that. Glue it to your bag-pouch. I forget who makes it because I don't use it. It has a little hole in it you open up the little lid to let the gas out. You can do it every hour. Don't eat a lot of fiber foods late at night that fills up your pouch. Stop drinking and eating at 7 PM. Make sure you have a nice snug stoma fit with a moldable barrier ring or regular ring I buy from Coloplast. If you don't have a snug fit, you will get air in there. Most people don't even wear a barrier ring around the stoma but I do. I also wear Brava strips around my whole wafer. It gives added protection from a leak. Measure your stoma because it changes to different sizes. I've had mine for 14 years and it's just got smaller because I lost weight. You just never know. I don't get the pre-cut wafer barrier because sometimes they could be too big.

Apr 12, 2022 7:40 pm
Reply to ron in mich

No, not a good idea eating after 7 PM causes gas. It's true if you don't have anything in your stomach, the air will fill with gas. Also, try different samples of other ostomy pouches to find one that fits well. Also, try to get a snug stoma with a barrier ring and also measure your stoma occasionally because it does change. Use the stoma guide. If you don't have a good snug fit around your stoma, air will get inside.

Feb 08, 2024 7:25 am

I just got the night collection pouch that hooks up to the high output pouch with nozzle. I keep having night blowouts and I'm really fed up. I've had an ileostomy for 38 years. I was 23. Mine is permanent by choice. Never have I had so many blowouts at night that I could not handle, and I'm very conscious of what I eat after dinner as well. I have never had to do that before now. I got the samples from Hollister to try this system and tonight was the first night I fell asleep without the worry of it blowing up. I'm ecstatic if this works from now on. I guess this is my life now. Maybe others have never heard of this; I hadn't until I called my ostomy manufacturer for help the other day. Oh, how I wish I would have.

If anyone has any tips or tricks with this system, I would really appreciate it! Thank you!

Feb 08, 2024 5:03 pm

Kobi, I am definitely interested in the system that you speak of! Could you perhaps take pictures of it or send more information on it?


I realize the post appears to have stopped in 2022. This is an old post where you replied, so I don't know how active it is. I'm pretty sure the woman in New Jersey will get a notification as we also get notifications. Everything everybody said above is spot on. It's really useful information, and I'd like to say that the woman in New Jersey is saying that her pouch is on the left side. I'm not quite sure that qualifies for an ileostomy. I thought colostomies were on the left and ileostomies were on the right, but I guess that depends on the mechanics of her system.

So we need to get that straightened out. I hope she's doing well, and if the woman in New Jersey gets this, she can reach out to me. I'm down south in Toms River, and she could read my profile for more information. I like what you wrote, Kobi. It's definitely a sound solution, or it sounds like it could help some people. Please advise. Thank you.