Fecal or bowel incontinence refers to the inability to control your bowel movements. The stool can seep out when you are passing gas or exercising, but fecal incontinence can occur anytime. Most people have a sensation in the rectal area before a bowel movement which signals the need to go to the bathroom. People with incontinence may not get this sensation and therefore, do not get this warning signal that it is time to use the restroom. Here are some causes of fecal incontinence and some treatment options that may help you regain control of your bowel function.
Fecal Incontinence Causes
One of the most common causes of fecal incontinence is advancing age. Older people can lose muscle tone in the anus and rectum, causing the muscles to weaken. Nerve damage is another common cause of incontinence. The nerves in your rectum and anus are the nerves that give you the sensation that alerts you that a bowel movement is imminent.
Nerve damage that can cause incontinence may be caused by spinal cord injuries, diabetes, stroke, paralysis, and multiple sclerosis. Muscle damage from certain surgical procedures can also lead to fecal incontinence.
A prolapsed rectum may also heighten the risk of incontinence. This condition refers to when the rectum "prolapses" or slips into the anal area. Other causes of incontinence can include chronic use of laxatives, inflammatory bowel diseases, and even food poisoning as a result of severe diarrhea.
Treatments For Fecal Incontinence
Your incontinence treatment plan will be based on the cause. For example, dietary interventions are often helpful to help prevent loose or watery stools that can contribute to incontinence. Avoiding excessive intake of alcohol, caffeine, beans, fruit juices, and cabbage may help prevent incontinence episodes, regardless of the cause.
Increasing your intake of foods that can bulk up your stools or make them less watery can also help bring you relief. These foods include bananas, potatoes, apple sauce, and cheese. Bowel training can also help you gain better control over your bowel movements.
Bowel training refers to establishing a regular routine of going to the bathroom and doing exercises that can help improve the tone of the muscles that surround the anus. Anti-diarrhea medications can also help control bowel incontinence, however, you should talk to your healthcare provider before taking them because they can cause constipation. Working with your healthcare provider to manage nerve damage caused by diabetes, stroke, spinal cord disorders, and multiple sclerosis can also help with bowel incontinence.
If you are unable to maintain control of your bowel movements, make an appointment with your physician for an examination. Once the cause of your incontinence has been identified, a treatment plan will be customized for you to help improve your symptoms.
For more information about bowel incontinence, reach out to a local clinic.
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