Fecal incontinence is known to affect only one in hundred people and therefore, not many products have been designed to aid protection from this condition. Moreover, people are also quite reluctant to admit that they suffer from this problem and do not even try seeking medical help. Because of this, exact figures of number of people suffering with this condition are difficult to estimate. Approximately, $400,000,000 is spent each year for buying adult diapers in USA alone.
Fecal Incontinence Explained
Fecal incontinence is essentially a medical condition that refrains its sufferers from exercising control over the movements of the bowels. Fecal incontinence may affect both adults as well as children and approximately 5.5 million Americans are experiencing fecal incontinence symptoms.
Because fecal incontinence bars a person’s ability to control his/her bowel movements, stool may start to unexpectedly leak from the rectum of the sufferer. Fecal incontinence is also called Bowel Incontinence and the fecal leakage can be occasional as well as frequent. A common example for those who experience fecal incontinence is occasional leakage of stool while trying to pass gas.
Causes Of Fecal Incontinence
Nerves damage, constipation, diarrhea and muscle damage are some common causes behind fecal incontinence. At times, the condition is associated with other diseases such as alzheimer’s disease. The condition may also be caused due to weakened anal sphincter. Whatever is the cause behind fecal incontinence, the condition can be quite embarrassing. However, with right treatment, the condition can be easily dealt with. Make sure you talk to your physician about your condition in detail and do not shy off.
Who are at Risk?
Both men and women are affected by fecal incontinence. In fact, people in old age as well as those with low immunity are more prone to develop fecal incontinence.
Men and women are affected in equal proportion. It is more common in old age, and despite the fact that fecal incontinence leads to poor hygiene, people often do not seek medical help. According to a study, only 1 in every 8 people actually seek medical support.
Signs And Symptoms Of Fecal Incontinence
It is very important to observe usual bowel habits in order to confirm fecal incontinence. You can keep a diary and keep noting the time the fecal incontinence occurs. Also note the place it occurs and the dietary intake that day. By doing this, you will be able to analyze your own habits and will be able to cope up with your problem. Following are some signs and symptoms of fecal incontinence.
Stool/gas is primary sign of fecal incontinence and almost everybody suffering from the condition experiences this symptom. In most of the cases, the sufferer is unable to maintain control over passage of gas or stool. With some people, they can sense that they need to use the restroom but simply are unable to reach the restroom in time in order to avoid the accident.
Yet another symptom of fecal incontinence, constipation may cause the muscles in sphincter and rectum to weaken.
This usually happens because stool is unable to pass but it stretches the surrounding tissue. The weakened and stretched muscles are unable to control the bowel movements of the sufferer effectively.
Muscle damage or nerve damage is another symptom of fecal incontinence. Moreover, damage of nerves makes muscles of sphincter and rectum incapable of contracting, thus leading to loss of bowel control.
Similarly, if muscles of the sphincter and rectum are damaged, they may not respond effectively to nerve impulses. Damage of muscles or nerves may be caused while giving birth or during a rectal surgery.
Leakage of fecal matter is one of the most unwanted symptoms of fecal incontinence. The anus leaks frequently because of lack of control of bowel movement. Moreover, solid stool is much easier to be kept within the rectum than fecal matter that completely fluid in nature.
Diagnosis of Fecal Incontinence
The condition of fecal incontinence can be confirmed by visiting your doctor. The doctor may recommend you some tests including anal manometry, digital rectal examination, anorectal ultrasonography and anal electromyography. These tests may involve use of some equipments such as cytoscope, which the doctor uses to confirm the condition of nerves in rectum as well as the strength of muscles. The doctor may also inquire about your medical history.
Treatments of Fecal Incontinence
Fecal incontinence can be treated with medications including stool softeners and laxatives. Surgery, bowel training and dietary changes that strengthen muscles may also be recommended. The treatment may also involve implementing techniques that stimulate sacral nerve. Those suffering with the condition must keep their anal area as much dry and clean as possible. This is because constant contact of skin with urine can irritate the skin and make it prone to infections and discomfort.
Self-Help For Fecal Incontinence Sufferers
Best ways to reduce problems of fecal incontinence is avoiding bladder irritants such as strawberries. Caffeine intake and pelvic floor exercises should also be avoided.
The problem of incontinence is much more prevalent in women than that of men and children. This is because women go through childbirth and it may damage the rectal muscles and nerves.
Additionally, there are a number of food items that anyone suffering with fecal incontinence must avoid. These food items include spinach, artificial sweeteners, strawberries, rhubarb and artificial coloring. Alcohol intake must also be avoided as it aggravates the symptoms of fecal incontinence.
Those suffering with fecal incontinence may also wear an additional extra-absorbent tampon. Those who are overweight must try to shed some pounds and try urinating after every three hours to avoid urge incontinence. Those suffering with this problem must also drink at least 2 L of water everyday in order to avoid urine incontinence and stay away from bladder infections.
Mentioned above are the signs and symptoms as well as steps that those suffering with fecal incontinence may take in order to avoid embarrassment.