Your Guide to Treating Bowel Incontinence

Bowel incontinence care disrupt life, lead to discomfort,
anxiety, and frustration. 
Bowel incontinence can really disrupt life, lead to discomfort, anxiety, and frustration. The following is a guide for treating bowel incontinence:

What is bowel incontinence?

Before you can treat it, you have to understand it. Bowel incontinence is the loss of bowel control, which leads to involuntary passing of stool. This can be an occasional leak of a small amount, possibly passed when passing gas, or it can be complete loss of control, or fall somewhere between the two.

Women are more likely to experience bowel incontinence than men after the age of 65.

Why seek treatment?

In order to stay continent, the anus, pelvic muscles, nervous system, and rectum must all function normally. When seeking treatment, it is important to recognize how the treatment options impact the various factors that lead to bowel control. Treatment should seek to help regulate bowel movements, decrease accident frequency, and increase stool firmness and consistency.

With the proper treatment most fecal incontinence can be helped or eliminated. So, start by identifying the causes, then take steps to remedy it.

What does treatment involve?

Treatment differs from person to person, but it often involves dietary changes and the use of medications that bulk the stool. It may also include strengthening of the anal and pelvic muscles.

Treatment options include:
  • Clearing fecal impaction.
  • Changing the diet to eliminate alcohol, caffeine, and dairy. Avoid food additives such as nutmeg and sorbitol. Increase fiber.
  • Medications. If the incontinence is from diarrhea, a medication such as Imodium may be used to control the bowels. Or a drug that may reduce water content in the stool. 
What else can you do?

Kegels: Increasing the strength of the muscles of the pelvic floor can be helpful. Kegel exercises are where it starts, but electrical stimulation may be recommended.

Biofeedback: Biofeedback to help retrain the anal sphincters, and teach the sensation of rectal fullness can help individuals defecate at the appropriate times.

Surgery: If the incontinence persists after medical therapy, surgery is an alternative. Surgery can be for many things: to repair the muscles of the pelvic floor including the external anal sphincter, or have a gracilis muscle transplant, or an artificial bowel sphincter put in place.

Injections: The internal anal sphincter function may be enhanced by injecting materials like silicone, carbon beads, or collagen.

Colostomy: If other options have failed, a colostomy may be performed, where the colon is diverted through the abdominal wall to empty into a removable bag.

Because the cause and treatment are closely linked, it is important to contact a health care provider should you experience any kind of stool incontinence, in order to find the best treatment plan of action.

Further Reading: 

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