Nobody would want to expel the feces suddenly without their knowledge. Passing of urine and stool is normally controlled by the nerves which would be in relaxed position until we reach the toilet. But there are instances where we pass urine or feces abruptly wetting the pants. It can happen due to bowel disease or many other causes. Such accidental feces leakage increases with age as the nerves go out of control gradually. Fecal incontinence is the medical term used to describe anus leakage. There are occasions when stool particles do stain the undergarments without your knowledge.
You may not have the urge to pass stool or urine which can be a matter of concern. Feces or stool leak uncontrollably from the anus/rectum. In some cases only some portion of stool gets discharged and in others there can be complete loss of bowel control. In addition to the fecal particles the stool may contain mucus or even blood warranting further investigation. In many cases cause of sudden feces leakage is not serious but it surely causes embarrassment. In this article we shall discuss about the various causes of fecal leakage and the ways to treat it.
Causes Of Fecal Incontinence :
Normally the rectum will slowly stretch or expand to hold the feces and gas particles giving time for the person to make his way to the toilet. But if the rectum is completely full of stool it may not be possible for it to expand further to hold the stool. Under such condition, additional stool particles would leak out. Anal sphincter muscle is responsible for closing and opening the rectum. This would normally keep the rectum in closed condition and opens it only when it the feces push it with force. Sphincter muscle would work properly to hold, open or close and squeeze the rectum according to the situation. But as the person grows older the muscle loses its strength failing to function properly. Women can injure their sphincter muscle during childbirth causing anal leakage after delivery.
The nerves that control the sphincter muscle can also weaken over age and after childbirth due to excess of strain. Anal leakage is the stool particles that are expelled through the anus/rectum. But it is not necessary that fluid or mucus present in the buttock area should have leaked from your anus. You may have omitted to wipe it off completely the previous time you passed the stool.
Chronic Constipation And Fecal Impaction
People living with long-term constipation would have solid feces in the rectum, most of the time. The stool would be of solid, semisolid or even in liquid condition. Sometimes the feces would abruptly get expelled from the rectum due to pressure causing anal leakage.
Inflammation of the stomach can occur due to many factors leading to irritation of the soft lining of the abdomen. This condition is known as gastroenteritis which is also called as “stomach flu”. This problem can cause sudden fecal leakage.
IBD or IBS
Irritable bowel disease or inflammatory bowel syndrome are together known as Crohn’s disease. This can cause sharp pain in the stomach, bloated feeling and sometimes sudden anal leakage due to constant irritation of the lining of digestive tract.
Abnormality In The Rectum
Some people might have certain anomalies in the rectum or anus by birth. This can trigger sudden expulsion of stool.
Any serious injury in the rectum or anus can cause sudden fecal leakage. Gynecological injuries occurring after childbirth can cause abrupt anal leakage. There are women who suffer from anal leakage after hysterectomy.
Any injury in the spinal cord or stroke or partial paralysis can cause anal leakage. The concerned nerve may not receive/send signals from/to the brain indicating bowel movement. Chronic diabetes can damage the nerves causing anal leakage abruptly. For some people the problem of anal leakage can occur after spine surgery.
Some people may not wipe the fecal particles completely after using the toilet. This can stain the undergarments which can be misunderstood for anal leakage. They leave some feces in and around the rectum which soil the trousers over time.
Anal fissures, piles, fistulas, celiac disease, food intolerance, diverticulitis, and rectal cancer can trigger sudden leakage of feces from the anus. Some people would see mucus mixed with stool. But this may not have expelled from the anus all the time. Fluid discharge can occur from the genitals for both men and women.
Causes Of Concern
If you have signs of blood leakage from the anus this is a matter of concern. Occasional bleeding can occur from the rectum if the person has hemorrhoids or anal fissures. But if the problem continues it should be checked with a physician promptly. Bleeding can occur in any part of the digestive tract or in the intestine which needs to be investigated. Blood leakage can occur from the anus due to common problems like hemorrhoids and due to more serious conditions like colorectal cancer or tumor in the digestive tract or intestine.
Fecal Incontinence Symptoms :
Anal leakage can be associated with other symptoms like repeated itching of the anus/rectum, itching on the buttocks, burning pain while passing urine or stool and sudden urge to pass stool even after completion of passing stool. The person might also have diarrhea or constipation alternating.
Who Are Prone To Anal Leakage ?
- Any person can develop anus leakage due to underlying medical issues. But the chances of fecal incontinence are high as one grows older.
- More women than men have anal leakage and are particular after childbirth.
- People with long-term diabetes and neurological problem are at risk of anal leakage.
Your doctor would ask you few questions regarding the anal leakage. He would collect the complete medical history after physical examination of the rectum using lighted instrument. He may order for series of tests like stool analysis, imaging tests like ultrasound scan and CT scan to check if there is any anomaly inside the colon or digestive tract.
Fecal Incontinence Treatment :
Anal leakage can be managed by many methods of treatments. But it is necessary to evaluate the cause first using various diagnostic tools and procedures. If the underlying issue is chronic constipation fiber supplements and laxatives are effective. Making changes in the diet and doing exercise regularly can be helpful in getting rid of constipation along with oral pills. For diarrhea suitable OTC drugs can be used. Fecal incontinence due to fecal impaction can be checked with suitable medications and pelvic floor exercise.
Hemorrhoids can be treated with topical hydrocortisone ointments and painkillers. Soft palatable diet is recommended in such cases. IBS and IBD cannot be treated completely but the symptoms can be managed with medications like anti-inflammatory drugs and immune system suppressants. There are medications to slow down the bowel movement which are helpful to preventing sudden accidents of wetting the pants. There is no single medication to control or prevent anal leakage. A combination of drugs and dietary changes and lifestyle modifications would be effective in controlling the symptoms.