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 Faecal incontinence


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Faecal incontinence, also known as bowel incontinence is the inability to control bowel as it leaks under jerks or while trying to pass bowels. The experience differs from one individual to another depending upon this ability to control bowels.


Symptoms of faecal incontinence

  •  Leakage of bowel due to inability to reach toilet on time
  •  Inability to hold on bowels on experiencing the urge, precisely termed as urge incontinence
  •  Soiling of undergarments while passing gas, occasionally or regularly – This condition is known as flatus incontinence
  •  The individual may not be aware of the fact that his stomach is full and he/she should visit the toilet. This is known as passive incontinence


Causes of bowel incontinence

There are several possible reasons behind experiencing bowel problems which are:

  • Damage to rectal muscle or anal sphincter during normal delivery and surgery of haemorrhoids in the rectum and anus
  • Nerve injury to the anal sphincter due to trauma, straining and from other health issues like multiple sclerosis, diabetes, stroke, injury in spinal cord, etc. The nerves connecting the brain and the rectum get damaged.
  • Side effect of rectal prolapse


Diagnosis of faecal incontinence

Your doctor will begin diagnosis with evaluating your medical condition, check history of disease and ask you questions regarding your bowel habits.

Diagnostic tests for fecal incontinence are:

  • Stool tests for infections in case of diarrhea 
  • Internal images of your anus, rectum, and colon will be obtained with the help a rigid or flexible tube. The techniques are known as anoscopy and sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy, respectively.
  • Endorectal ultrasound or rectum endoscopy is performed with the help of a lighted probe
  • MRI of the anus, rectum and anal sphincter muscle will be taken while the patient passes bowel in a specially designed arrangement at clinic
  • Pressure of the sphincter muscle is measured with the help of a pressure monitor
  • To test the sensitivity of sphincter muscle and determine any underlying nerve damage, your doctor might conduct anal manometry and electromyography tests.


Treatment of faecal incontinence

Your doctor will customize the treatment for you depending upon the cause and severity of your incontinence.

Your doctor will prescribe laxatives for constipation or medicines to control incontinence in bowel or for stopping your diarrhoea. Along with this, your diet will be modified as per the problem you are suffering from. Either fibre rich diet or low fibre diet will be recommended to manage constipation and diarrhoea, respectively.

Faecal incontinence is completely treatable. One of the most successful treatment options include bowel training and implementing regular bowel habits along with biofeedback therapy that encourages you to gain control over the muscles that control bowels.

The anal sphincter could be manipulated by inserting silicone or collagen to boost its function or by stimulating specific nerves with electric current.

Surgery would be opted for if you have complete rectal prolapse, hemorrhoids or any other severe condition in the nerves or anal sphincter which is making daily life significantly troublesome. Some techniques include sphincteroplasty, colostomy, sphincter replacement, etc.


Home care for faecal incontinence

  • Your doctor would show you Kegel exercises to improve function of your pelvic muscles. Make sure you practise them regularly.
  •  Continue the diet advised by your doctor and the techniques for gaining better power over bowels
  •  Apart from this, as a safety measure, make sure you have extra underpants and tissues with you while travelling

Written by: healthplus24.com team
Date last updated: September 28, 2014


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