Fecal incontinence refers to problems associated with bowel control, specifically the inability to restrict a bowel movement before reaching a restroom.
About 18 million adults in the United States have Fecal Incontinence with women being slightly more susceptible to it. If you have had any of the following conditions your risk of experiencing Fecal Incontinence can be increased:
- muscle damage or weakness
- nerve damage
- Pelvic Floor Dysfunction
Once a correct diagnosis is made, approaches to successfully treat Fecal Incontinence can begin. Treatments may include one or a combination of the following:
Eating, Diet, and Nutrition
Since the food you eat affects stool consistency and how quickly it passes through the digestive system eating diet and nutrition are important.
- Eating the correct amount of fiber. Fiber adds bulk to stool and makes it softer and easier to control.
- Drinking sufficient fluids. Eight, 8 ounce glasses of liquid each day may help prevent constipation. Liquids with caffeine may cause diarrhea.
- Using a Food Diary.
Bulk laxatives, such as Citrucel and Metamucil, to develop more regular bowel patterns may help. Antidiarrheal medicines such as loperamide or diphenoxylate may be recommended to slow down the bowels and help control the problem.
Pelvic Floor Exercises
Pelvic floor exercises may strengthen the pelvic floor muscles and improve bowel control. Additionally, Biofeedback therapy that uses sensors to tell if patients are using the correct muscles may also be helpful.
Where constipation is involved, developing a regular bowel movement pattern can help relieve Fecal Incontinence.
If Fecal Incontinence fails to improve after other treatments are tried, or if it is caused by pelvic floor or anal sphincter muscle injuries, surgery may be an option. A Sphincteroplasty, the most common type of surgery used, can reconnect the separated ends of a sphincter muscle torn by childbirth or another injury.
Called sacral nerve stimulation, or neuromodulation, electrical stimulation of the nerves that pass through the lower back using an implanted battery operated stimulator, can help control muscle reactions, reflexes and sensations, and as a result, bowel incontinence.