Bowel Incontinence

bowel incontinence

What is the Bowel Incontinence?

Fecal incontinence

Bowel incontinence is the inability to control bowel movements. It's a common problem, especially among older adults.Accidental bowel leakage is usually not a serious medical problem. But it can seriously interfere with daily life. People with bowel incontinence may avoid social activities for fear of embarrassment.Many effective treatments can help people with bowel incontinence. These include:
  • medicine
  • surgery
  • minimally invasive procedures

Talking to your doctor is the first step toward freedom from bowel incontinence.

Causes of Bowel Incontinence

The most common cause of bowel incontinence is damage to the muscles around the anus (anal sphincters). Vaginal childbirth can damage the anal sphincters or their nerves. That's why women are affected by accidental bowel leakage about twice as often as men.

Anal surgery can also damage the anal sphincters or nerves, leading to bowel incontinence.

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There are many other potential causes of bowel incontinence, including:

  • Diarrhea (often due to an infection or irritable bowel syndrome)
  • Impacted stool (due to severe constipation, often in older adults)
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis)
  • Nerve damage (due to diabetes, spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, or other conditions)
  • Radiation damage to the rectum (such as after treatment for prostate cancer)
  • Cognitive (thinking) impairment (such as after a stroke or advanced Alzheimer's disease)

More than one cause for bowel incontinence is frequently present. It's also not unusual for bowel incontinence to occur without a clear cause.

Diagnosis of Bowel Incontinence

Discussing bowel incontinence may be embarrassing, but it can provide clues for a doctor to help make the diagnosis. During a physical examination, a doctor may check the strength of the anal sphincter muscle using a gloved finger inserted into the rectum.

Other tests may be helpful in identifying the cause of bowel incontinence, such as:

Stool testing. If diarrhea is present, stool testing may identify an infection or other cause.

Endoscopy. A tube with a camera on its tip is inserted into the anus. This identifies any potential problems in the anal canal or colon. A short, rigid tube (anoscopy) or a longer, flexible tube (sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy) may be used.

 

10 common question about Bowel Incontinence

1What can be done for bowel incontinence?
Medications. Depending on the cause of fecal incontinence, options include: Anti-diarrheal drugs such as loperamide hydrochloride (ImodiumA-D) and diphenoxylate and atropine sulfate (Lomotil) Bulk laxatives such as methylcellulose (Citrucel) and psyllium (Metamucil), if chronic constipation is causing your incontinence.
2What causes bowel incontinence in females?
Diarrhea (often due to an infection or irritable bowel syndrome) Impacted stool (due to severe constipation, often in older adults) Inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis) Nerve damage (due to diabetes, spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, or other conditions)
3Is loss of bowel control a sign of cancer?
Common signs of colorectal cancer include the following: Change in bowel habits: Constipation, diarrhea, narrowing of stools, incomplete evacuation, and bowel incontinence — although usually symptoms of other, less serious problems — can also be symptoms of colorectal cancer.
4What causes bowel incontinence in the elderly?
FECAL INCONTINENCE CAUSES Fecal incontinence is commonly the result of muscle or nerve injuries that accelerate the natural aging process of pelvic muscles and tissues in the elderly. ... Constipation: Constipation is one of the more common causes of fecal incontinence, especially in the elderly.
5Why do I keep leaking poop?
A. When feces leak accidentally from the rectum, it is called fecal incontinence. This embarrassing condition can range from mild spotting, as you have, to an inability to control solid bowel movements. ... The most common is damage to the anal sphincter, a group of muscles that prevents the involuntary escape of feces.
6Why do my bowels leak?
Common causes of fecal incontinence include diarrhea, constipation, and muscle or nerve damage. The muscle or nerve damage may be associated with aging or with giving birth. Whatever the cause, fecal incontinence can be embarrassing.
7Can bowel incontinence be cured?
Simple treatments—such as diet changes, medicines, bowel training, and exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles—can improve symptoms by about 60 percent. These treatments can stop fecal incontinence in 1 out of 5 people. Your doctor can recommend ways you can help manage and treat your fecal incontinence.
8Is bowel incontinence a disability?
Answer: Yes, it is possible to get Social Security disability for bowel incontinence — that is inability to control your bowels, soiling yourself — also referred to as explosive diarrhea. ... In cases of alleged bowel incontinence, Social Security will look at your medical history.
9What are the symptoms of bowel incontinence?
What causes fecal incontinence in adults? Diarrhea. Loose, watery stools from diarrhea fill your rectum quickly and are harder to hold in than solid stools. ... Constipation. ... Muscle injury or weakness. ... Nerve damage. ... Neurologic diseases. ... Loss of stretch in the rectum. ... Hemorrhoids. ... Rectal prolapse.
10How do I tighten my sphincter muscle?
Sit, stand or lie with your knees slightly apart. Slowly tighten and pull up the sphincter muscles as tightly as you can. Hold tightened for at least five seconds, and then relax for about four seconds. Repeat five times.

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