Growling or gas sounds from the stoma are quite normal, but might be embarrassing and distracting in a social or working environment. These uncomfortable noises are usually a result of the following situations:
When you have an urge to eat, the digestive system signals the brain to prepare for food entry and digestion. The process involves release of digestive fluids and movement of the abdominal muscles and intestines. The fluids interact with the air inside the intestines creating sounds. After ingesting, the intestines continue their motion and noise making while digesting the food.
Certain types of foods:
Consumption of high fiber and starchy foods increases gas formation. The most common culprits are lactose, sorbitol, raffinose and stachyose. Eating too fast, having your mouth open while eating, and talking while eating causes you to swallow air. The result are grumbling noises, as air makes its way through the digestive tracts. To prevent the formation of gas, choose small frequent meals rather than large ones. Fruit and vegetables snacks are a good idea. Your ostomy will not deprive you from food options, but you will need to consume slowly and chew well. For more on this check Ten Ostomy Diet Tips.
Certain types of beverages:
Nervousness and consumption of beverages like beer, coffee, cola or tea stimulates peristalsis and may produce noticeable ostomy sounds. Gastric movements from these beverages may make symphony like sounds, which in medical terms are denominated borborygmi (singular is borborygmus). Ostomy patients must be cautious with drinks in social outings. If you wish to have some alcohol, try a glass of dry wine like a Cabernet Sauvignon.
Hypoactive and hyperactive noises:
There can be hypoactive and hyperactive noises. Quite normal while you sleep, the hypoactive noises indicate slowness in intestinal activities. These noises are not usually loud or intense. They are common after consumption of certain medicines and the ostomy surgery. Hyperactive noises on the other hand reflect an increase in intestinal activity. They can be loud and further intensified by the stoma. They are common after meals or when experiencing diarrhea.
Although abdominal noises are common, persistence of noises followed by pain must not be ignored. They could denote anomalies such as bowel obstruction or ulcer and may require medical attention. Noises too low or absent, could signal constipation. Lack of sounds, could mean rupture of the intestines. In general, the presence of abnormal symptoms such as nausea and vomiting, excessive gas, abdominal pains, sudden changes in bowel movements, or acute increase or decrease in abdominal noises should be disclosed to your ostomy health care practitioner.
Abdominal noises could be indicators of serious conditions, but normally are just your intestines at work. Still, they may be very perturbing and could affect ostomy patients’ quality of life. It is natural for Colostomy, Ileostomy, and Urostomy patients with a dynamic life outside their comfort zone, to feel apprehensive about noises. It can affect their confidence and demeanor. Watching one’s diet, learning to somehow contain, or outright suppressing ostomy noises are alternative measures (for more on suppression go to ostomy noise suppression). Regardless of the solution, if noise is an issue, something must be done. After undergoing the traumatic changes inherent to ostomy surgery, it would be preposterous to let noises threaten one’s social life.