Fecal Incontinence is a fairly common condition especially in the aging and senior citizen populations. It is also known as Bowel Incontinence and Stool Incontinence and generalized as an accidental passing of stool or gas. The stool may be solid or runny, or contain mucus. Although it is not generally a serious medical condition, it can seriously put a damper on your active lifestyle. It can limit your social activities and interrupt everyday tasks. Bowel movements at inappropriate times can be inconvenient and embarrassing but there are many choices to help you manage Fecal Incontinence.
Fecal Incontinence Causes
Bowel Incontinence itself is not a disease and as such it is caused by an underlying disease or condition. There are a multitude of potential underlying causes and for that reason it is commonly a result of a combination of conditions at once. These underlying conditions can be categorized by their own types such as physical conditions and neurological diseases.
Underlying Physical Condition Causes
The physical conditions that may lead to Bowel Incontinence are:
- Muscle Strain or Weakness from Childbirth
- General Poor Health due to Chronic Illnesses and Substance Abuse
- Rectal Damage
Underlying Neurological Condition Causes
Neurological conditions that may lead to Bowel Incontinence are:
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Spinal Injuries
- Alzheimer’s Disease
Fecal Incontinence Diagnosis
The symptoms of Fecal Incontinence are fairly self-explanatory, but an actual diagnosis may be achieved by seeing a Physician. Your doctor may want to test you using one or more of a variety of methods for imaging the rectal muscles, a stool test, or an endoscopy.
Fecal Incontinence Treatment
The treatments for Fecal Incontinence vary as greatly as it’s underlying causes. The good news is, mild forms are typically curable. The first step in treatment is to look at the organic factors such as:
- Exercise – Although primarily thought of as a urinary incontinence treatment, Kegel exercises can help strengthen the pelvic muscles in general and as such improve control over fecal incontinence too.
- Diet – Arguably the easiest treatment for mild fecal incontinence is to increase the fiber in your diet while also drinking more water. Likewise, you’ll want to avoid caffeine. Not only can it cause diarrhea, it also acts as a diuretic in some people, depending on tolerance.
If you’ve followed proper diet and exercise routines but are still experiencing bowel incontinence there are more invasive avenues of treatment that include:
- Surgery – There are surgical procedures such as sphincteroplasty that can strengthen the anal sphincter muscles.
- Implants- There are two types of implants for fecal incontinence. One is a cuff that may be inflated to prevent passage of stool and the other is designed to stimulate the pelvic nerves.
- Colostomy – This is the last line of defense when all other treatments don’t work. A surgeon will reroute the colon through an opening in the skin to that drains into a bag attached to the abdomen.