Bowel incontinence or stool leakage from the anus is a problem that no one wants to talk about. This condition can take over your life, preventing you from enjoying your normal routine. It can also cause a great deal of shame and humiliation. Learning the causes of bowel incontinence will help you talk to your doctor and learn the ways that you can take back control of your life.
Bowel incontinence defined
Bowel incontinence, also known as fecal incontinence, means that you do not have full control over your bowels. Many people have heard of urinary incontinence and urinary leaks; bowel incontinence acts in exactly the same manner. Stool will leak from the anus. Upon having the urge to go to the washroom, you may not be able to "hold it" long enough to get to the toilet.
Or you may notice a leakage of some stool while passing gas. Both of these events can cause embarrassment to the point of being socially crippling.
Children may experience bowel incontinence as they become better adept at toilet training. Normally, the condition is less common in adults but does start to show up in greater numbers among the elderly. Regardless of age, people who suffer from bowel incontinence will not want to venture very far from home for fear of having an accident. This is a very uncomfortable subject for most people to talk about, even with their doctor.
In a healthy, functioning bowel the anal sphincter muscles act to keep stool in the body until it is time to eliminate. The rectum normally accommodates or holds stool until the rectum sends a sensation or the feeling that it is time to go to the washroom. If any or all of these bowel areas malfunction, the result is that the stool can escape through the anus at the wrong time.
Causes of bowel incontinence
*Constipation affects the way the rectal muscles hold in and release stool properly.
*Diarrhea or loose watery stools can be difficult to control.
*Muscle and/or nerve damage to the internal and external anal rectal sphincters that hold the stool in cannot function if damaged. This can be caused by pressure from prolonged chronic constipation.
*Pelvic floor dysfunction means the muscles in the pelvis are damaged and cannot perform their duties. Women often suffer this type of rectal damage during childbirth.
*The rectal walls can be damaged enough that they can no longer stretch to hold normal amounts of stool. When the walls are too rigid to function stool can leak out.
*Rectal prolapse or a rectum protruding below the anus will affect rectal functions.
*Rectal cancer, surgery, inflammatory bowel disease, stroke, loss of muscle strength with age, hemorrhoids, and chronic laxative abuse are some other common causes of bowel incontinence.
Fortunately, there is help for those afflicted with this condition. Among the many treatment options are dietary changes, retraining your bowels, medication, and surgery. You no longer have to suffer in silence. Talk to your doctor to get a proper diagnosis and learn more about the ways to overcome the inconvenience and embarrassment of bowel incontinence.
This article orignally appeared under my pen name on another writing site. I have elected to share this information with Menopause site readers.
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