How to Burp an Ostomy Bag (w/ video)

How to burp an ostomy bag header small

The term “burping” isn’t something you’d expect to go hand in hand with ostomy care, but it is something that ileostomates and colostomates should familiarize themselves with.

Note: Since gas is a problem that people who have an ileostomy or colostomy may experience, this article is geared towards them. Urostomates won’t find any of this information useful but might enjoy the read.


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Ostomy Care: How to Burp an Ostomy Bag
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What Does it Mean to “Burp” an Ostomy Bag?

“Burping” means to manually remove gas from an ostomy pouch either through the outlet on the bottom or by a small gap between the flange on a two-piece appliance.

“But shouldn’t the filter on an ostomy pouch already do that?”

In an ideal world, yes. Unfortunately, we don’t live in an ideal world!

Most ostomates find that the filter on their appliance tends to either not work at all or clog up quickly and stops working soon after.

When this happens, gas builds up in the bag and that can cause “ballooning”, which can lead to lead to leaks and/or a very noticeable bulge under clothing.

Ballooned Hollister 1pc ostomy bag
This is not a full ostomy bag – this bag is full of gas! Note: I would NOT attempt to burp a bag this full.

Usually, an ostomate who has a ballooned pouch often has to visit the bathroom and empty their appliance, often times when it has no output in it.

This can be annoying and time-consuming, which is why burping your appliance can be a great little shortcut to use.

Tip: If you’re looking for ways to prevent ballooning, THIS article may help.


A Few Warnings

Like most shortcuts, burping an appliance isn’t without risks. I’ll highlight some important ones below.

  • Smell. There’s no escaping this one, although some pouch deodorants can help. When you release gas from your ostomy pouch, it’s pretty much like farting out in the open. There will be an odor, often times quite strong, so be mindful of where you do this. I recommend heading for a bathroom.
  • Leaks. Burping your appliance may cause output to escape your bag. If done correctly, this should never happen.
  • Messy coupling. You may not get a leak, but opening up the coupling of your two-piece appliance may cause stool to get between the plastic rings of both your bag and wafer. Sometimes this can lead to odors or even stain your clothes.
  • Projectile poop! When the velocity of gas escaping your pouch meets with a soiled bag, you can sometimes get poop splatter. I’m being serious. If you plan to burp your appliance and it’s really full of gas, take toilet paper and place it right on top of where you’re opening the coupling to catch anything that flies out.
  • Full pouch ejection! Some two-piece systems work better than others, and the ones that don’t work well with burping often cause this catastrophic failure. If your two-piece coupling uses stiff plastic (i.e Coloplast Sensura Click or Sensura Mio), then you won’t be able to easily open just a small crack for gas to escape. I would strongly recommend against burping if you’re using an appliance like that.

How to Burp an Ostomy Bag

There are two main techniques for burping an ostomy bag, which I will explain below:

Two-Piece with Mechanical Coupling

My preferred method of burping involves a two-piece system with a mechanical coupling. I find that the Hollister New Image two-piece is one of the best for this, but you can experiment with other brands to see which work best for you.

The idea is to just slightly open the top part of your two-piece coupling enough to allow gas to escape.

Burping a 2pc ostomy pouch
If done carefully, burping a 2pc appliance can be easy.

This works best while standing and you can also apply gentle pressure to your pouch to help move the gas along.

If you plan to do this while on your back, I would highly suggest making sure that no output has collected around your stoma or you’ll have a leak.

Tip: I do not recommend using this technique with adhesive coupling systems as they are more prone to getting leaks and the adhesive weakens every time you reapply it. An example of an adhesive coupling system would be the Cymed 2pc.

One-Piece Systems

While this technique is geared towards ostomates who don’t wear two-piece systems, it can also be used when the two-piece system isn’t ideal (i.e. adhesive coupling or stiff plastic coupling).

This technique involves opening the outlet at the bottom of your drainable bag to release gas.

Coloplast SenSura Click wide outlet
Gas can easily escape from the outlet of any drainable bag.

The only easy way to do this is to lay on your back and lift the tail of your appliance up so that any stool will fall towards the top of your appliance (and away from the outlet).

When you are sure that no output is near the outlet, you can carefully open the outlet and allow gas to escape.

Burping an ostomy bag laying down
While on your back, point the outlet upwards to allow gas to rise up and output to slide down.

You may apply gentle pressure to your pouch to direct gas outwards, but use caution as this may cause stool to escape.

Once that’s done, you can close the outlet and stand back up.

Bonus: Osto EZ-Vent

If neither technique works for you, but you still want to burp your appliance, I would suggest looking into the Osto EZ-Vent.

The Osto EZ-Vent is a product that you can apply to just about any ostomy appliance and it allows you to vent gas easily.

Osto EZ-Vent
The Osto EZ-Vent allows for an easier way to burp your ostomy pouch.

I’ve reviewed the Osto EZ-Vent HERE, and you can order them on Amazon HERE (affiliate link).

Some people might like the convenience of using the Osto EZ-Vent over burping the usual way, but they do need to be installed on your ostomy pouch BEFORE you wear it.


Closing Thoughts

Burping your ostomy appliance can be a convenient way to relieve your pouch of ballooning.

While you can burp just about any appliance using various techniques, you’ll still want to be mindful of the smell it can produce and the risks of leaks (or worse).

Question: Do you burp your appliance? How has your experience been?

28 thoughts on “How to Burp an Ostomy Bag (w/ video)”

  1. I have my bags breaking two or three times a day the stoma nurse said Its to close to the surgery I tryed every thing you suggest

    Reply
    • @Marjorie Oliver
      Hi Marjorie,
      Welcome , I only joined a few months ago , but find this a great site, with help and understanding. It has been about 6 months from my operation, but I can tell you it is a very hard struggle for most. But finding the right ostomy nurse , and product can help immensely. And less of a struggle. I went from frequent leaks using Hollister to much less of a problem with Coloplast and using a barrier ring . All of John68 advise is so true. So hang in there and 
      Stay in this forum..
      kevin

      Reply
  2. Eric…before the EZ vent I had a fair deal of ballooning. I just read a reply you made to someone about the beans and the issues they cause. I am going to try and find the Bean-Zyme for when I would like to eat some of the foods I have been avoiding due to gas production. Before the vent, If I had a ballooned bag, I would lay down and point the mouth of the bag” up” in order to burg it. If I had to change the bag over and it was full which can happen very suddenly sometimes, I will lay down before the change to burp the bag. Your videos are so very helpful and so full of information. Thank you…Linda

    Reply
  3. Thabks for making a video on this! One of my nurses in the hospital showed me how to burb it from the drain end but I had not thought about the way to do it with a two piece.

    I have had those mishaps – mainly when I’ve been too tired to get out of bed and oops! That wasn’t just air in there…Had to get up anyway then…

    Also, if you hear a “pop!” Sound after attempting to burp your bag’s drain end and happen to not move it correctly in that direction, you might want to immediately run some warm water through the appliance to see if you blew a seal…yup…live and learn. I’m MUCH more careful now ;-)

    Reply
  4. Hi ,great comments , I am four weeks new to my stoma. (I called him James after my youngest brother) ..
    I am just learning about burping and yes at night it is a panic a bit ! I have been just emptying the bag as I knew of no other safe way.
    Maybe an odd question,but why is the smell so different from before,(chronic ulcerative colitis all of my colon was removed after no response to Iv steriods) I mean it offends me ! I would think others would run in terror! , as I say I am still learning but ,I definitely would not burp a bag in a place where it could be traced back to me 😉 again in time things have been getting easyer . I went from flex sig to bag in 7 days. Vancouver Canada

    Reply
    • Hi Sleepy:

      Welcome to the group. I agree with you on the smell it is totally different from when it is expelled through the normal bowel. My trick to eliminate the odour is twofold, when I empty my pouch I always rinse it with water, before I close the pouch I put 1 ml (or one bottle cap) of hydrogen peroxide in my pouch and then close it up. It does a terrific job on neutralizing the door. It is very inexpensive if you purchase it at Walmart or your local dollar store. Hope this helps. BTW I live in Ontario, Canada.

      Reply
    • Hi Sleepy,

      Yes, the smell is different when you don’t have a colon. I noticed that bile, which looks dark green, is the most offensive as far as output smells are concerned. Odors will change as your body gets used to your new setup, and depending on what you eat, you may notice that your output smells a little like the food you’ve eaten.

      Using a pouch deodorant can help, but you may have to experiment to find one that works for you. More info here: https://www.veganostomy.ca/ostomy-odor-tips/

      Reply
  5. I tried the Hollister with a two piece accordian flange but in Australia their bag product range is very small and the that one is far too long for my body, also their flange is too narrow for me to get my fingers under to push. I think but not sure, that it was Hoiiister that told me that all their bags are floating flange! As i said previously — very confusing. BTW- with many surplus one piece bags I found a charity that will send them to Ethiopia.

    Reply

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