Anus or rectum is that part of the body involved in expelling waste particles in the form of feces. Foods that we eat are absorbed in the intestine and further sent down to large intestine for separating nutrients and salts. Then kidney swings into action in the process of separating waste particles from the food and pushing the waste materials into the anus region and bladder to be expelled in the form of stool and urine respectively.
Anal leakage is an embarrassing problem among old aged people. It is also called as fecal incontinence wherein the stool particles would leak uncontrollably before you use the toilet. Certain medical conditions like gastroenteritis, diabetes neuropathy, chronic constipation and hemorrhoids can cause anal leakage. Anal leakage does not always mean that it should be fecal particles, but it can be mucus or fluids or even blood. Once the root cause of the problem is identified, anal leakage can be managed through conservative measures, diet control and medications.
What Causes Anal Leakage :
Anal leakage can also occur in adults and youngsters due to some medical problems. Loss of bowel control may vary from mild leakage to complete bowel release. It is certainly embarrassing for the affected person to soil their undergarments in public places. Fecal incontinence can be caused due to gastroenteritis problem, constipation (chronic), hemorrhoids, inflammatory bowel disorder and certain deformities in the rectum/anus area. Women can get this problem after childbirth which can be resolved by pelvic exercises.
Nerves present in the rectum may not send signals properly to the brain indicating that you need to shit. This condition can be caused due to diabetic neuropathy or spine injury or after surgery. Fluid or mucus discharge from the anus can be due to anal fissure, celiac disease, diverticulitis or even colorectal cancer. Some people would mistake fluid discharge from genitals to be of anal origin. Any ulcerous growth on the rectum or hemorrhoids or food intolerance problem can also cause mucus discharge from the anus.
Sometimes consumption of certain foods like figs, plums or sudden intake of vitamin C supplement can cause anal leakage. People suffering from irritable bowel syndrome may not have control in the bowel muscle which cannot hold the feces until they reach the toilet. Taking laxatives for constipation can trigger fecal incontinence. Certain medications given for erectile dysfunction and depression can also be a cause for anal leakage. If you observe bloody discharge from your rectum/anus you need to consult your physician for sure. It can be due to hemorrhoids or any other serious problem.
Anal leakage would present its symptoms visibly by wetting the pants and garments. For some people anal leakage is accompanied with other signs like anal pain, itchy anus or burning pain in the anus. For people with chronic constipation there would be sudden urge to pass stool even after using the toilet.
No separate tests are needed to identify anal leakage. For aged people it can occur commonly due to incapability of muscles to hold the feces for long. Based on other symptoms your doctor may order for tests like stool culture, blood test, and imaging tests like CT/MRI scan of the colon to determine the exact cause. A small catheter would be sent into the anus which would record the pressure of the sphincter muscle inside for identifying the root cause. Colonoscopy may also be done to identify problems in the colon.
Treatment for anal leakage depends on the cause. Your doctor will consider factors like your age, sex, medical history and your diet habits before deciding on the treatment. He may look into the results of the testing procedure to identify the culprit. Diet and exercise are enough to control anal leakage commonly. It can be managed by taking anti-diarrheal drugs available over the counter. For people with hemorrhoids in the anus/rectum taking sitz bath and applying ointments can help in preventing anal leakage.
For gastroenteric problems antibiotics and medications are given to control the symptoms of diarrhea. For those with constipation fiber supplement can be taken along with making diet changes. Pelvic exercises may benefit a lot for women to control fecal incontinence. Your doctor will teach you to follow regular bowel movements so that your anus will remain empty. Eat a healthy balanced diet.
Wearing protective pads or wipes or special undergarments can help people to move around with anal leakage. Regular sphincter exercises can strengthen the anal muscles and thus improve the symptoms. Surgery is the last option for repairing anal leakage. Sphincter muscles are repaired during the surgery but your surgeon would have to decide whether you are the right patient for the surgery.