Ostomy filters come in handy for patients who have an ostomy since odor is a major source of stress for ostomates. Without some means of containing the inevitable gas accumulation in the pouch, it can distend to a point where it creates discharge problems.
Ostomy filters are there to solve this issue. How do these filters found in ostomy pouches work? The filters are made of activated charcoal which is a type of specially treated charcoal with enhanced absorption properties. According to some, coconut husks activated charcoal is the best. The filter has several useful functions.
- Help in offering an escape vent for gas in the pouch. This prevents pouch distension
- Eliminates or reduces ostomy discharge related odor.
- Patient’s comfort
- Reducing embarrassing odor situations
- Giving the patient the confidence needed to pursue personal and social interests.
Ostomy filters are used in all types of ostomies.
The two main types of ostomy filters are the ones already attached to the pouch and those that are separate from the pouch and have to be fixed by the patient or medical professional.
Many brands of ostomy filters are available in the market. Although they are all designed to reduce or eliminate gas and odor problems, they may not work to the same degree of patient’s satisfaction. An ostomate may have to experiment with several types to determine which one works best for them.
Properties of a quality Ostomy Filter
- Perhaps the main desired property in a filter is one that will allow gas to escape while eliminating foul odors or liquid discharge.
- The filter should effectively scavenge hydrogen sulfide and methyl mercaptan gases which constitute the main sources of foul odor from an ostomy pouch.
- The ostomy filter should have an outer protective layer that prevents liquids from soaking the activated charcoal inside. Such a layer allows the patient to engage in swimming and other water activities without worry. A filter without this layer forces the patient to use tapes and other protective wear.
To achieve these properties, use of special materials and the way the ostomy filter is designed are important to consider. Sufficient surface area and a material that allows free air flow in a controlled activated charcoal environment contribute to effective odor prevention. Also, the special material prevents fluids from inside or outside the pouch from getting into the ostomy filter should by being both hydrophobic (water repelling) and oleophobic (oil repelling).
If ostomy gas and odor are not effectively controlled, it can contribute to patients sliding into depression and social withdrawal. Fortunately, with a good quality ostomy filter, the patient gains more confidence and leads a productive life.