Question: Frequent Nighttime Emptying of Ostomy Bag Due to Air Accumulation

I underwent surgery in January and have been using Hollister appliances for my ostomy care. Every evening, I encounter an issue where my ostomy bag fills up with more air than urine, requiring me to empty it approximately every 45 minutes. Is this a normal occurrence, and are there strategies to prevent this from happening?

Response: Expert Recommendations for Ostomy Bag Management

It is not typical for an ostomy bag to require emptying every 45 minutes due to air accumulation, especially at night. This situation can be addressed with the right approach and equipment:

  1. Consult a Specialized Nurse: Schedule a visit with an NSWOC nurse (Nurse Specialized in Wound, Ostomy, and Continence). NSWOCs are registered nurses with advanced training in ostomy care, equipped to assess your situation and offer tailored equipment recommendations. You can find a local NSWOC via this link: Find a NSWOC.
  2. Contact the Manufacturer: Reach out to Hollister directly. Their customer service team, composed of ostomy care experts, can provide guidance, suggest solutions, and may offer free product samples for trial. They are adept at addressing such concerns and can offer valuable insights.
  3. Proper Connection Technique: When connecting your pouch to the bedside drainage bag, ensure you leave a small amount of urine in the pouch to prevent creating a vacuum in the system.
  4. Ensure Adequate Ventilation: The bedside container should be vented, and the tubing secured at the top of the bag or bottle, with only a small portion extending into the bag or bottle to prevent urine backup.
  5. Routine Cleaning: Clean the tubing and bedside drainage collector each morning. Use a vinegar-and-water solution (1 part white vinegar to 3 parts water) to flush through the pouch and tubing into the collection container, then pour it out and allow the tubing to air dry.
  6. Additional Tips: If frequent air accumulation continues, discuss with the NSWOC nurse or manufacturer about other pouch options or accessories that might better suit your needs.
  7. Personal Experience Sharing: You may also benefit from sharing experiences and tips with other ostomy patients through local support groups or online forums.

Your proactive approach in seeking advice is commendable, and with the right support and adjustments, you should be able to find a more manageable routine for your ostomy care.

Jo-Ann L. Tremblay
Ostomy Lifestyle Expert Member of Ostomy Canada Society
Medical Lifestyle Advisory Committee Member