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Thoughts on Ostomy Odor Management

Isn’t it interesting that people with normal intact bowel tracts and urinary systems manage odor problems in an acceptable manner in our society? But when disease or trauma strikes, and the person is the owner of an ostomy, the one big concern is the fear of offending society with an odor.

What’s an ostomy? Basically an ostomy is a man-made exit site that changes the point of exit from the bottom or back of our body to the front. Our eyes and noses are obviously on the front of our body, which leads us to be more aware of our changed body image and our odor-producing products. I’m sure you’ve heard the statement, “You’ve come a long way, baby.” Yes, ostomy management has come a long way-considering that as little as ten years ago, we had very few 100% odor-free pouching systems.

Ostomy Collecting Receptacles When ostomy surgery was first developed, ostomates wore anything to collect output. Tin cans, rubber gloves, cups of all shapes and sizes, bread wrappers, and plastic margarine cups just to mention a few, were standard equipment for the ostomate. Not only the feasibility, but the odor problems this type of equipment produced, was enough to give ostomy surgery and people who had ostomies a very deplorable place in our society. Presently, almost all the ostomy pouching systems available to us today are made of odor-barrier materials.

Odor Detective Work Therefore, if an ostomate does have a fecal or urinary odor about them, some detective work should be done: Check out the application of the pouching system to the body. Is it leaking? Check out the closure of the pouching system—is it closed properly so that no fecal matter is oozing out after the closure? Do not put holes in the pouch as gas will seep out continuously.

Urostomy Odor Cautions The urostomate should rinse or wipe off the spout of the pouching system with a bathroom tissue after emptying. Those few drops left in the spout after closing the pouching system can cause a urine odor under clothing It is interesting to note that most urostomy pouching systems on the market are odor-proof, but the connecting tubing and bedside and leg bag are not. You must dispose of and replace these products when they take on urinary odors, or else your entire living quarters will smell.

Elimination in Ostomates vs Non-Ostomates Emptying an ostomy pouching system is comparable to a person with an intact bowel or urinary tract having a bowel movement or emptying their bladder. How does the non-ostomate handle the odor produced by the normal function of their body? Room deodorizing sprays are popular; a quick flush of the toilet when defecation occurs, and opening a window are some acceptable methods that have been used for odor management.

Why are Ostomates so uptight about elimination odors when our pouching systems are emptied? This constant complaint has encouraged ostomy supply manufacturers to create products to meet the need for odor control. Just remember, there is not a man or woman on this earth whose wastes do not smell. If someone tells you that their waste products are odorless, then a nose overhaul is in order for them!

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