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Bowel Incontinence

Also called: Encopresis, Fecal incontinence, Stool soiling

Bowel incontinence is the inability to control your bowels. When you feel the urge to have a bowel movement, you may not be able to hold it until you get to a toilet. Millions of Americans have this problem. It affects people of all ages - children and adults. It is more common in women and older adults. It is not a normal part of aging.

Causes include

Treatments include changes in diet, medicines, bowel training, or surgery.

NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

Symptoms of Bowel Incontinence

The following features are indicative of Bowel Incontinence:
  • accidental passing of solid stool from rectum
  • accidental passing of liquid stool from the rectum
  • accidental passing of mucus from the rectum
  • passing stool into one’s underwear without being aware of it happening
  • inability to hold a bowel movement until reaching a toilet

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Common Causes of Bowel Incontinence

The following are the most common causes of Bowel Incontinence:
  • diarrhea
  • constipation
  • muscle damage or weakness
  • nerve damage
  • loss of stretch in the rectum
  • childbirth by vaginal delivery

Other Causes of Bowel Incontinence

The following are the less common causes of Bowel Incontinence:
  • hemorrhoids
  • rectal prolapse
  • rectocele

Risk Factors for Bowel Incontinence

The following factors may increase the likelihood of Bowel Incontinence:
  • middle-aged and older adults
  • being female
  • late-stage Alzheimer's disease and dementia
  • disease that damages nervous system
  • injury that damages the nervous system
  • poor health from long lasting illnesses
  • difficult childbirth with injuries to the pelvic floor
  • being physically disabled

Prevention of Bowel Incontinence

Yes, it may be possible to prevent Bowel Incontinence. Prevention may be possible by doing the following:
  • eat healthy diet
  • high fiber diet intake

Occurrence of Bowel Incontinence

Number of Cases

The following are the number of Bowel Incontinence cases seen each year worldwide:
  • Very common > 10 Million cases

Common Age Group

Bowel Incontinence most commonly occurs in the following age group:
  • Aged > 50 years

Common Gender

Bowel Incontinence can occur in any gender.

Lab Tests and Procedures for Diagnosis of Bowel Incontinence

The following lab tests and procedures are used to detect Bowel Incontinence:
  • Digital rectal examination:To evaluate the strength and length of internal and external sphincter muscles

Doctor for Diagnosis of Bowel Incontinence

Patients should visit the following specialists if they have symptoms of Bowel Incontinence:
  • Urogynecologist
  • Gastroenterologist

Complications of Bowel Incontinence if untreated

Yes, Bowel Incontinence causes complications if it is not treated. Below is the list of complications and problems that may arise if Bowel Incontinence is left untreated:
  • skin irritation
  • seroma formation
  • bleeding
  • scarring
  • emotional distress

Procedures for Treatment of Bowel Incontinence

The following procedures are used to treat Bowel Incontinence:
  • Sphincteroplasty: Tightening the damaged anal sphincter
  • Surgery: Eliminates or reduces the faecal incontinence
  • Sphincter Replacement: Damaged sphincter is replaced with artificial anal sphincter
  • Sphincter Repair: Restoration of muscle tone
  • Colostomy: Attaching a specific bag attachment at the opening of abdomen to collect the stool

Self-care for Bowel Incontinence

The following self-care actions or lifestyle changes may help in the treatment or management of Bowel Incontinence:
  • Take proper diet: Take plenty of fluids and fiber rich food
  • Exercise regularly: Restore the muscle strength

Alternative Medicine for Treatment of Bowel Incontinence

The following alternate medicine and therapies are known to help in the treatment or management of Bowel Incontinence:
  • Sacral Nerve Stimulation therapy: Strengthen muscles in the bowel by nerve stimulation
  • Biofeedback therapy: Helps strengthening pelvic muscles

Time for Treatment of Bowel Incontinence

While time-period of treatment for each patient may vary, below is the typical time-period for Bowel Incontinence to resolve if treated properly under an expert supervision:
  • More than 1 year

Last updated date

This page was last updated on 2/04/2019.
This page provides information for Bowel Incontinence.
Anal Disorders
Bowel Movement

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