Published April 7, 2021
Shedding light on fecal incontinence begins with a definition. It is the inability to control your bowels leading to stool or feces leaks. The problem can range from an occasional leak of stool when passing gas to a complete loss of bowel control. Although it can happen to anyone, it is more common in seniors over the age of 65.
What Causes Fecal Incontinence
You might be surprised to know that women are more susceptible to bowel leakage than men. Childbirth weakens the sphincter muscles and nerves around the anal area causing women to be twice as likely to suffer from this condition.
Nerve damage to the anal area due to diabetes or MS is another common cause. Chronic constipation, diarrhea, and inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis are also contributing factors.
Other causes of fecal incontinence include the following:
- Cognitive issues like advanced Alzheimer’s Disease or a stroke
- Radiation damage to the rectum
- Rectal prolapse where the rectum fall down into the anus
- Rectocele where women find their rectum has moved into the vagina
- Severe hemorrhoids
There are usually at least two causes of fecal incontinence, and sometimes the exact cause cannot be diagnosed.
Other risk factors include your age, being female, and physical disabilities making it difficult to reach the bathroom quickly.
How You Can Help Treat And Reduce The Symptoms Of Fecal Incontinence
You can start by eating 20 to 30 grams of fiber every day which will help to add bulk and prevent leakage. Don’t drink caffeine, but do drink more water to prevent constipation.
Never strain when having a bowel movement as this can weaken your anal sphincter muscles. This is both a preventative measure as well as a tool to reduce the incidence of fecal incontinence.
Use OTC products like Imodium.
Begin a schedule of kegel exercises to strengthen the muscles controlling leakage, and begin to schedule your bowel movements in shorter increments.
Lastly, keep track of what you eat for a week. Make note of those foods or beverages that seem to induce incontinence and gas. Eliminate those foods and measure if your incontinence improves.
When To See GI Solutions
Living with fecal incontinence is embarrassing and frustrating and may cause you to stay home and avoid all social interactions. Don’t wait to seek care from GI Solutions if your incontinence is frequent and/or severe. The sooner you are evaluated, the sooner treatments can begin.
There are both non-surgical and surgical interventions available to reduce your symptoms or cure the condition.
Categories: Fecal Incontinence