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What is Ballooning & How do Filters Help?

What is Ballooning & How do Filters Help?

When you swallow food or water, you also swallow some air. Many ostomy pouches have a built-in charcoal filter. This filter allows air to be released. However, ballooning can still occur if the filter cannot manage the amount of air produced or if it gets wet or blocked by output.

How can you reduce ballooning?

One of the main methods to reduce bloating is to reduce the amount of air that enters your digestive system. We are all different; some foods that increase air for one person are not the same for another.

Your lifestyle:

Reducing ballooning by:

  • Eat regular meals throughout the day.
  • Sip your drinks and avoid carbonated beverages. 
  • Take your time eating your dinner. 
  • Chew your food thoroughly.
  • Eating yogurt daily or taking probiotics can help balance the bacteria in your digestive system, reducing air.

You may find:

  • Certain types of food, such as spicy or high-fibre foods and certain vegetables (e.g., onions, cabbage, beans), can increase the air you produce.
  • Fizzy (carbonated) drinks lead to increased air entering the intestine.
  • Activities such as drinking through a straw, drinking from a sports bottle, chewing gum and smoking or becoming short of breath or snoring can increase the amount of air swallowed.

What to do:

If ballooning still occurs, you're able to release the air from the pouch if you use an open bag or a two-piece system. Also, changing the bag if something is blocking the filter will reduce ballooning. Also, it may be worth trying a different ostomy bag and filter type if the issue continues.


  1. Check that the contents of your pouch are not soaking the filter. If this happens, it may indicate that you need to change the bag more often. You should still be changing your pouch/appliance within the recommended amount from your ostomy nurse. 
  2. You can release air in an open-end (drainable) bag by unclipping or opening the bottom. If using a two-piece bag system, periodically release the air from the pouch throughout the day by slightly separating the pouch from the flange at the top of the appliance. You do not have to remove the whole pouch system to release air. 
  3. With some pouches, the outside of the filter can get wet when swimming or showering. If this occurs with your pouch, try covering it with a "filter cover" (typically found in the box your pouches came in!).
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