Fecal incontinence is the inability to control bowel movements, causing stool (feces) to leak unexpectedly from the rectum. Also called bowel incontinence, fecal incontinence ranges from an occasional leakage of stool while passing gas to a complete loss of bowel control.
Common causes of fecal incontinence include diarrhea, constipation, and muscle or nerve damage. The muscle or nerve damage may be associated with aging or with giving birth.
Whatever the cause, fecal incontinence can be embarrassing. But don’t shy away from talking to your doctor. Treatments can improve fecal incontinence and your quality of life.
Symptoms of Fecal Incontinence
Fecal incontinence may occur temporarily during an occasional bout of diarrhea, but for some people, fecal incontinence is chronic or recurring. People with this condition may be unable to stop the urge to defecate, which comes on so suddenly that they don’t make it to the toilet in time. This is called urge incontinence.
Another type of fecal incontinence occurs in people who are not aware of the need to pass stool. This is called passive incontinence.
Fecal incontinence may be accompanied by other bowel problems, such as:
- Gas and bloating
When to See a Doctor
See your doctor if you or your child develops fecal incontinence, especially if it’s frequent or severe, or if it causes emotional distress. Often, people are reluctant to tell their doctors about fecal incontinence. But treatments are available, and the sooner you’re evaluated, the sooner you may find some relief from your symptoms.
Treatment for Fecal Incontinence
Treatments for fecal incontinence can include medications, behavioral therapy and/or changes in diet.
Bhatti GI also specializes in the implantation of InterStim Therapy for Fecal Incontinence. The implanted InterStim system electrically stimulates the sacral nerve which is thought to normalize neural communication between the bowel and the brain. InterStim offers significant quality of life improvements for people with chronic fecal incontinence.
Bhatti GI can see patients within a week. Contact us today for an appointment.