Bowel incontinence is the condition in which a person will not be able to control bowel movements that may cause leakage of bowel (stool) suddenly. Fecal incontinence may vary from mild level to intense loss of control. Some of the factors that trigger this condition are diarrhea, nerve damage (old age) and usage of laxatives. If taken proper treatment, it can be controlled fully so that one need not get embarrassed in public causing leakage of fecal particles.
Very often, people who have crossed 60 years will have this problem and is more particular in women. This again is due to repeated child-birth and undergoing surgery like C section. The pelvic muscles and the nerves surrounding the pelvis are responsible for controlling the bowel movements. Sometimes stress and heightened emotion can cause bowel incontinence even in adults.
Obviously, one cannot control the fecal particles till he reaches the restroom. For many adults, this problem occurs only when they have diarrhea or constipation. Sometimes, children would also soil their underwear unable to control the bowel if they are not able to make their way to toilet.
Fecal incontinence can occur along with diarrhea and gastric problem in many healthy individuals.
Several factors may trigger bowel incontinence. Chronic use of laxatives is one of the major causes for this problem. Constipation and diarrhea can trigger the nerves to lose control. The muscles of the anus becomes weak unable to control fecal particles for long time.
People who have undergone surgery recently on rectum can have this disorder. Women may not be able to control feces when they become aged and this is more specific for women who have injury on their anal muscles during childbirth.
Any damage to the nerves or muscles of the anus can cause fecal incontinence. Possible reasons for nerve damage are formation of tumor or undergoing radiation therapy or due to injury. If the muscles cannot hold the stool properly naturally it will cause bowel incontinence. Nerves are responsible for controlling the stool in the rectum and anal sphincter. But when nerves are partially or fully damaged due to childbirth or any other reason it may cause fecal incontinence. Even chronic diabetes can affect the nerves causing this damage.
Hemorrhoids and rectal prolapse (movement of rectum into the anus) can make one to lose control of bowel movements. Stress and emotion can induce the person for fecal incontinence.
Who are at risk ?
Aged people, women who have complicated childbirth, people who have nerve or muscle damage are prone to fecal incontinence. Individuals who have physical disability can also get this problem since they may not be able to reach the toilet within time.
Anti diarrheal medicines can be given for managing diarrhea. You will be asked to take fibrous food and drink plenty of water to avoid constipation. When the stool becomes very hard it cannot move freely through the rectum and hence gets blocked in the path. In that case, laxatives are given for the person to loosen the fecal particles.
In case of muscle damage, you can do exercise for building up muscle strength and for getting improved anal sphincter control.
For children, bowel training should be given and ensure that they maintain the time for visiting the toilet to ease out this problem.
Surgery is done for treating or repairing damaged sphincter muscle, rectal prolpase or hemorrhoids.
In severe cases, colostomy is done wherein a bag is attached to a small opening in abdomen for collecting the stool.
Making small changes in your diet and lifestyle can prevent you from bowel incontinence totally.