Any kind of incontinence issue can be difficult to deal with, but dealing with bowel incontinence can be especially tough. From the feelings of shame and embarrassment, from the loss of control and the odour that bowel incontinence brings with it to the exhaustion from dealing with the practicalities involved like cleaning up. Bowel incontinence is certainly not glamorous, but various forms of bowel problems are common. According to Age UK there are some 6.5 million people throughout the UK who are affected by a variety of bowel problems.
What Can Cause it?
Bowel incontinence can be an indication of an underlying problem. A healthy person with no bowel issues will easily pass bowel motions that don’t cause any strain on passing. Putting aside all of the other bowel related issues, there are specific things that can be causing the embarrassment often resulting in bad smelling leakage and surprisingly one of them is constipation!
Yes, constipation can really cause bowel incontinence. In fact, it is often the most common cause. The reason being that hard bowel motions that are difficult to pass can remain in the bowel (faecal impaction) leading to small amounts of watery stool to leak out around the hard bowel motion without warning. As this leakage looks like diarrhoea (also a cause of bowel incontinence itself) it is understandable why constipation is an unlikely suspect.
Other causes can include diarrhoea (as mentioned above) when sufferers experience difficulty in being able to hold liquid in their rectum which can be common amongst certain conditions such as Crohn’s disease, it can develop into bowel incontinence. Or when there has been damage to the sphincter muscle or it has weakened leaving it less efficient at controlling the passing of bowel movements. This damage occurs commonly during childbirth when the sphincter muscle can become stretched and weakened. Nerve damage or damage to the nervous system is another cause – affecting the signals from the brain to the rectum it can lead to bowel incontinence.
Dealing with Bowel Incontinence
Although it is common, affecting one in ten people at some point in their lifetime (NHS), bowel incontinence is a medical issue that can be treated. It should not be considered a normal part of ageing. As bowel incontinence is a symptom of an underlying condition it is very important to see a doctor who will be able to run a variety of tests to determine what the underlying cause is and suggest a treatment plan.
While effective treatment of the underlying condition may take some time and the incontinence may persist during the treatment there are many things that can help make it easier to deal with. Perhaps the doctor will include dietary changes as part of the treatment plan – this combined with exercise, specifically exercise that targets the pelvic floor muscles can help manage bowel incontinence. Diet and exercise however, won’t provide complete management of the problem, fortunately there are specialist companies like www.ostomartstore.co.uk that have many products that can help to manage and disguise bowel incontinence in a more practical way allowing sufferers to feel confidently protected throughout the day regardless of what they are doing.