Bowel incontinence or fecal incontinence can be distressing. Bowel incontinence is the condition of a loss of voluntary control of bowel movements. The condition of bowel incontinence may range from mild to severe. Patients may feel the frequent urge to pass gas or have involuntary bowel movements with a leakage of stool. Bowel incontinence affects both men and women. Age is an important factor associated with bowel incontinence.
In this condition, muscles responsible for controlling bowel movements weaken. Other risk factors for bowel incontinence include diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome, urinary incontinence, and prior bowel surgery. Diagnostic tests can help detect the symptoms of stool leakage and uncontrollable bowel movements.
Even chronic constipation may lead to leakage of stool. Some patients report that eating large meals can lead to involuntary bowel movements and stool leakage. Hence, eating small meals can help reduce involuntary bowel movements. Spicy foods and drinks can cause leakage of stool and hence should be avoided.
Treatment of Bowel Incontinence
Some treatment options helpful to control leakage of stool and improve control over bowel movements are listed as follows:
- There are alternative methods that can help in reducing leakage of stool, such as diets. Avoiding foods like dairy products, alcohol, spicy foods, and caffeinated beverages can prevent leakage of stool. A diet rich in fiber can also prevent leakage of stool.
- Exercise is an effective treatment method to treat bowel incontinence. Muscle strengthening exercises and Kegel exercise are helpful.
- Medication can help in the treatment of bowel incontinence. Medicines provide relief from uncontrollable bowel movements. A diet rich in fiber or fiber supplements can improve the stool inconsistency.
- Biofeedback is among useful treatment options. It involves applying a pressure probe in the anus and a sensing electrode on the abdomen. It improves strength and coordination of the anal muscles for the treatment of uncontrollable bowel movements.
- Surgery: Patients suffering from bowel incontinence may need surgery to treat uncontrollable bowel movements. Patients with anal muscle injuries may need surgical treatment.
- Colostomy is among the surgical treatment options used in rare and difficult cases. In this treatment, a bag with an opening is fitted in the abdominal wall to collect stool. It helps eliminate leakage of stool.
- Sphincteroplasty is a common surgical treatment that corrects the defects in sphincter muscles. In this method, two ends of muscles are cut and overlapped to restore the complete muscle ring.
- Muscle transfer is a treatment method that helps in strengthening the anal canal. This treatment is used if the treatment using sphincteroplasty is unsuccessful.
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