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ABL is both embarrassing and inconvenient. However, it is not uncommon. It affects both men and women. In fact, one in five women over the age of forty experience some level of ABL, although most only experience small or moderate leakage.
Many factors can lead to ABL or contribute to it. For women, one of the leading factors is childbirth. Often, muscles are torn, and damage to the bowel occurs while giving birth. However, childbirth is not the only cause, nor the greatest risk factor. Medical conditions including chronic diarrhea and Irritable Bowel Syndrome are the most common causes leading to ABL.
Risk factors for ABL include factors such as weight. Being overweight can put excess pressure on the sphincter, and lead to leakage. Diseases that affect the nervous system, such as diabetes and Parkinson’s can also lead to increased risk for fecal incontinence. The body is less able to signal when it needs to release. Age plays a role, as does lifestyle choices. Smoking, for example, can increase the risk.
Because of the sensitive nature of this problem, over 50% of sufferers do not seek immediate medical help. Rather than talk to a healthcare professional, they “deal with” symptoms, which typically eventually become worse.
ABL is a treatable problem, and there are products and management strategies to help reduce the symptoms, and manage them for a more normalized life. Have an open conversation, start the dialogue with your healthcare professional, and find out what is causing your ABL. Sometimes an untreated medical condition is leading to the symptoms of fecal incontinence, and treating the problem will help reduce and alleviate symptoms.
Common treatments include:
- Changes to your diet. Extra fiber may help. But often changes mean avoiding foods that increase symptoms, such as caffeinated foods and beverages.
- Bowel training. Doing biofeedback exercises to help relearn control of the bowel can help.
- Strengthening exercises. For women, often engaging in Kegel exercises can help with ABL.
- Medication. Laxatives may be needed, or medications to slow down bowel movement.
- Injectable tissue bulking agents. These can help improve the thickness of the anal wall.
- Surgery. This can help to stimulate nerves, improve or repair part of the anus or sphincter, clean out the colon, etc.
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About The CareGiver Partnership. The CareGiver Partnership helps caregivers and their loved ones with answers to their caregiving questions, including information about home health care products and supplies, from our Wisconsin-based team of Product Specialists who are all current or former caregivers. The company’s Web site provides the largest online library of resources on subjects most important to caregivers — from arthritis to assisted living, and Parkinson’s to prostate cancer — as well as access to more than 3,000 home care products for incontinence, skin care, mobility, home safety and daily living aids. The CareGiver Partnership was founded in 2004 by Lynn Wilson of Neenah, Wisc. Visithttp://www.caregiverpartnership.com to learn more or call 1-800-985-1353.