Fecal Incontinence

What is Fecal Incontinence?

Bowel incontinence, also known as fecal incontinence (FI), prevents you from controlling your bowel movements. You may experience unexpected leaks, or use the bathroom very frequently. Some people experience a combination of these symptoms. Some people may suffer from bowel incontinence due to not being able to sense a bowel movement, while others are able to sense a bowel movement but cannot hold it until they get to a bathroom.

Causes of Fecal Incontinence

Bowel incontinence is usually an acquired disorder. It may be caused by:

  • Obstetrical injury from pregnancy or childbirth
  • Stroke or advanced age
  • Nerve or muscular damage caused by surgery or injury
  • Conditions that affect the nerves, such as diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis
  • Inflammatory bowel disease and irritable bowel syndrome
  • Congenital disorders

Conservative Treatments: Behavioral Techniques and Medications

Some people can reduce their bowel control symptoms with lifestyle changes, diet modification, bowel retraining, Kegel exercises, or other kinds of physical therapy. In addition, your doctor may prescribe medications to help control the symptoms of bowel incontinence. Medications used for bowel control problems offer a possible solution and may include anti-diarrheal medicines.

However, unfortunately outcomes with conservative management are often poor and FI often persists. In addition, the surgical options of the past, such as Sphincter muscle surgery, have been used with limited success or have left patients with a less than desirable results, such as a colostomy (“stool bag”)

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