Pancaking occurs when the stool sits on and around the stoma and fails to drop down into the appliance. As more stool comes out there is nowhere for it to go so often finds its way out beneath the flange.
It can sometimes be a problem for people with colostomies, causing leakage and sore skin. This can be caused by the filter on the bag being too effective or because the stool is too ‘sticky’ It is a tricky problem to resolve.
There are plenty of practical things you can do to avoid pancaking, for example, before applying your appliance:
Place a filter cover on the filter
Towards the top of your appliance, there is a filter which allows air to escape from the bag. Sometimes this works too well and it is worth placing a filter cover over this (they are the little stickers that come in the box with your bags). This allows air to keep the bag from sucking together so there is more room for the stool to move down.
Place a wet or scrunched up tissue into the appliance
This helps hold the sides of the bag open.
You can also grease the inside of the appliance with oil (olive oil or baby oil) to help the stool slide down.
Pancaking can also be caused by your diet as it may be making the stool too sticky or hard to pass through the stoma effectively.
Make sure that you are drinking plenty of fluids – this can help to soften the stool and reduce any risk of pancaking. Water is the best for hydrating, however, some fruit juices such as prune, apple and grape are effective at loosening stool.
Make sure that you eat plenty of fibre. High fibre foods, including whole grains, fruits and vegetables will help to ensure that your stool is optimal to safely pass through the stoma. A simple change to your diet to include more may go a long way to preventing pancaking from occurring.
For more information on diet and nutrition for ostomates, including a list of some high fibre foods, please click here.
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