Symptoms of bowel incontinence

            Having problems with controlling bowels can be very embarrassing and surely can cause great distress especially for adults and the elderly. Bowel incontinence is also known as faecal incontinence or accidental bowel leakage. Those experiencing this debilitating health issue will obviously find a doctor to get a better understanding of what is happening and to get treatment. A person should not hide this problem and to confront this openly with a healthcare professional so that this condition can be improved.      

       Bowel incontinence is the accidental passing of bowel movements or inability to control the bowel contents which includes solid stools, liquid stools or mucus from the anus. Bowel incontinence is common in old adults aged 65 and above, constipated child, a person with diarrhoea, those that had their gallbladder removed, a smoker, women with caesarean section or vaginal delivery and those with other medical conditions such as depression, trauma and stroke or born with birth defects to the spinal cord, anus or rectum. Injury or weakness to the muscle or the nerve of the anus, pelvic floor or rectum is linked to bowel incontinence as it is unable to contain the stool from leaking. Other conditions affecting the anus such as haemorrhoids and rectal prolapse can prevent muscles around the anus from closing properly and this leads to leaking of the bowel contents.

            Symptoms of bowel incontinence depend on the types. The first type is the urge faecal incontinence which means a person already knows that they are about to pass stool but unable to control it before reaching the toilet. The second type is the passive faecal incontinence which means a person will pass this contents without even realising it. Soiling, a condition of streaks or stains of stool or mucus found on the stool is considered a symptom of bowel incontinence. Other symptoms may include constipation, diarrhoea, flatulence or bloating. Such symptoms should be happening everyday or from time to time and not accidentally happen once.

            Treatments for bowel incontinence can greatly help a person’s quality of life and to help improve the symptoms. The first step to treat this condition is to have a talk with a doctor because in order to treat bowel incontinence is to initially find out the main cause for the condition. Doctors would provide simple treatments such as diet changes to avoid diarrhoea getting worse, prescribing medicines to reduce stool frequency or to improve bowel movement process and explain exercises that could be done to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles such as the Kegel exercises. A person may get themselves incontinence products to use such as absorbent pads inside the underwear to help absorb the soiling and leakage.

       Therapy may be provided to help with bowel incontinence. Biofeedback therapy utilises devices or machines to help a person to learn exercise that strengthen the pelvic floor muscles and to help a person learn how to have better sense when the stool has filled the rectum or to help a person to get better control of the urgency sensations. Biofeedback therapy is much more effective than learning the pelvic floor exercise alone. Electrical stimulation such as the sacral nerve stimulation can help the nerve responsible for the bowel movement to work properly. Women with bowel incontinence may be offered a vaginal balloon to create a pressure onto the wall of the rectum so that passing of stool is much more controllable. Bulking agents may be injected to the wall of the anus to help narrow the anus opening and for the muscle’s sphincters to better. Lastly, when all measures have been taken, surgery will be the last resort to treat bowel incontinence.

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