Lonestar Gastroenterology

How Chronic Constipation Can Eventually Lead to Fecal Incontinence

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How Chronic Constipation Can Eventually Lead to Fecal Incontinence

Disposing of waste is a vital part of your digestive tract’s duties, and constipation can make that more difficult and create issues with fecal incontinence. Read on to learn what can be done to help.

Digestion is a process that starts in the mouth and works its way through your body to nourish your cells and remove the waste you don’t need. This process uses complex actions, including chewing, breaking down through muscular contractions and acidic baths, and eventually pushing out the remains. Your teeth, esophagus, stomach, intestines, and rectum are all part of a digestive network that keeps your body going.

Unfortunately, several different illnesses can make the process harder, including the discomfort associated with constipation, which not only makes passing stool harder but can lead to issues with fecal incontinence if it happens repeatedly. 

To better understand how one condition leads to the other, let’s examine the causes of chronic constipation, the issues that link it to fecal incontinence, and the options available to treat them.

Residents of the Austin, Texas, area looking for relief from chronic constipation, fecal incontinence, or other digestive problems can find help with Dr. Rajesh Mehta and his experienced medical team at LoneStar Gastroenterology.

Causes of chronic constipation

Being constipated means having trouble moving feces through your intestines due to blockages or something slowing down the digestive process. Not being able to move that out of your body can lead to unpleasant symptoms, like abdominal pain, nausea, bloating, loss of appetite, and straining to empty. 

You have a chronic problem if you’re dealing with three of the following issues:

  • Passing stools infrequently (less than three a week)
  • Pebble-like, hard or lumpy stool
  • The sense you’re not fully emptying
  • You feel something blocking your bowels

Links to fecal incontinence

This form of incontinence leaves you unable to control when you defecate, causing unintentional leakage in some cases when you don’t even realize it’s happening. Defecating is a function of your rectum muscles, pelvic floor (the muscles that stretch from the front to the back of your lower pelvic bone), and your anus and nerves in this area let you know when it’s time to release. 

Frequent issues with constipation can stretch and weaken these muscles, leading to problems controlling feces. 

Additionally, straining while pooping also leads to nerve damage. Also, if the liquid part of your stool separates from stool lodged in your lower digestive tract, it can seep out, causing incontinence.

Treatment options

Treating these problems depends on the cause and severity.

Chronic constipation

You can manage mild cases of this problem by drinking more water, increasing your fiber intake, and taking laxatives, enemas, and glycerin suppositories. Kegel floor exercises strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, and stimulant laxatives can help to increase motility in the intestinal muscles to soften stool if regular laxatives aren’t effective.

Fecal incontinence

Fiber can assist with incontinence, as it helps to firm up stool and allow it to pass naturally and with more control. Enemas can remove hard stools that cause impactions, and Kegel exercises can help. 

When conservative options fail in both treatments, surgical options are available to remove blockages from constipation, and sphincteroplasty can repair the anal sphincter muscles.

Constipation regularly is a problem that can cause you to lose control of your stool, but help is available to manage this embarrassing issue. Make an appointment today with Dr. Mehta and LoneStar Gastroenterology to get things back to normal.