Fecal incontinence is a condition wherein the sufferer is unable to control his bowel movement; this causes to unexpected leak of loose stools from your rectum. Fecal incontinence is also sometimes referred to as bowel incontinence. It may range from occasional unexpected leakage of loose feces while trying to pass gas to a complete inability to control bowel movement, especially in people older than 4 years of age.
There are several causes of fecal incontinence; some of these common factors stimulating such conditions may include diarrhea, constipation and damages of muscles or ever nerves. The condition may also arise due to anal sphincter that is weakened or damages to the anal or rectal muscles or nerves.
Irrespective of the causes, the condition is not only irritating but also embarrassing. It is suggested not to hesitate to speak to your doctor about the condition. There are treatments that can help you improve the physical issue.
Symptoms of fecal incontinence:
Like any other disorder even in case of fecal incontinence, the sufferer may experience some associated symptoms. These are some of the signs and symptoms that may be experienced when one is suffering for this condition.
• Unable to control the bowel movement due to loss of control on the passage of stool; this may cause unexpected evacuation of loose stools.
• Frequent visits to lavatory due and passing insignificant amount of stool.
In some people fecal incontinence may be a minor issue, with minute soiling of their innerwear. In other cases the condition can be upsetting due to complete loss of bowel control. There are other signs that may accompany incontinence of feces which may include:
• Bloating of stomach or gas
Causes of fecal incontinence
Fecal incontinence may result out of various factors such as:
Ironically one of the most common causes of incontinence of feces is said to be constipation. As is due to chronic condition of constipation which may cause stools which is dry and impacted as well as larger mass of stool may be developed within your rectum. This developed mass can be very larger for you to pass out easily. Hence, this may also cause your rectal muscles (and sometimes intestinal and anal muscles) to weaken. Loose stool from upper portion of the digestive system may travel around the hard mass and unexpectedly leak out. Apart from weakening of muscles, constipation may also degreed the responsiveness of your rectal as well as anal nerves, which also cause reduced control over the movement eventually leading to fecal incontinence.
Loose stool is very difficult to retain in the rectum as compared to slightly solid stool; hence, in case of diarrhea loose stools can cause incontinence of feces.
Usually, incontinence of stools is due to traumatic anal sphincter injury, which is the rectal muscular ring that helps in holding the stools within the rectum. If these muscles are injured then the sphincter (or the muscular ring) is not strong enough to hold the stools within. Such damages to sphincter may be caused due to childbirth particular with the prevalence of episiotomy or incase of forceps used during the delivery. Damaged sphincter muscles are unable to hold back the loose stools usually and sometimes even hard stools are unexpectedly evacuated.
Damage to nerve
Fecal incontinence is also associated with nerve damage, especially the ones that helps in sensing movement of stool in the rectal region as well as those nerves that controls anal sphincter. Nerve damages may also be cause due childbirth, apart from traumatic injury, intense straining, strokes as well as spinal cord malfunction or injury. In some cases diseases such as diabetes mellitus and multiple sclerosis may also lead to nerve damages.
• There are other factors that may result in incontinence of feces such as loss or reduced storage capacity in the rectum, hemorrhoid surgery, cancer of rectum, rectal prolapse or rectocele etc.
Tests and diagnosis of fecal incontinence:
There are several diagnosing techniques that may help in understanding the prevalence of incontinence of feces. Initially, your doctor may question you on the symptoms and the period of affliction. If these questions do not help him to determine the cause of the issue, then there are some other usual as well as advance tests that he may ask you to undergo.
Physical examination for bowel incontinence
This kind of tests to understand incontinence of feces may include pressing of abdomen to check for abnormalities or may even involve visual inspection of anal or rectal region. Your doctor may look for hemorrhoid, infections etc. He may use a pin or other such object to examine the skin of your anal or rectal area. Just by touching the skin your anus may pucker or contract. This will help your doctor to determine if any nerve damages are there.
There are other examination such as digital rectal exam, anal manometry, anorectal ultrasonography, proctography, proctosigmoidoscopy and anal electromyography etc.
Fecal incontinence treatment
There are several treatment techniques that can be adopted to treat fecal incontinence. The treatment of the condition may greatly depend on the severity of the condition. The treatment may also focus on alleviating the symptoms experienced by the sufferer. There are medicines that may help in treating the condition which may include:
• Anti- diarrheal medications:
There are some drugs that are effective in curing diarrhea. By decreasing the intensity of symptoms of diarrhea including loose stools, your doctor may help you in getting rid of fecal incontinence. Loperamide also known as Imodium is one of such effective medication to control diarrhea.
• Laxatives for fecal incontinence:
Laxatives are other medications that are used to resolve physical issues such as fecal incontinence. Your doctor may suggest such laxative only in case when you are suffering from constipation and there is hard dry stool hindering the bowel movement.
Apart from these aforementioned medications there are other medicines like stool softeners, etc which are efficacious in normalizing the bowel movement. You may also come across some effective home remedies but it is better to consult a doctor in order to treat fecal incontinence effectively.