Lonestar Gastroenterology

You Don't Have to Live with Fecal Incontinence: We Can Help

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You Don't Have to Live with Fecal Incontinence: We Can Help

Not being able to make it to the bathroom is incredibly embarrassing and makes wanting to do things with your friends and family harder. If fecal incontinence is affecting your social and personal life, we can help.

Using the bathroom is something that you’re trained to do in your early years and becomes a private matter throughout your life. Controlling your bladder and bowels simply becomes something we take for granted, but sadly there are many ways to lose control, and those challenges are harder for some people than others. 

Fecal incontinence is a condition where loss of bowel control leads to fecal leakage, and for most people, just summoning the courage to talk about it can become embarrassing beyond words.

This condition can happen for a lot of reasons, but it’s important to understand that as embarrassed as you feel, you should seek help because it can get better. Let’s walk you through why you’re going through this and how it can be treated by looking at what causes fecal incontinence, what signs to look for, and how we can help.

Dr. Rajesh Mehta and his skilled medical staff at LoneStar Gastroenterology can help you find relief if you live in the Austin, Texas area, and you’re struggling with fecal incontinence or other digestive conditions.

Understanding fecal incontinence

When the rest of your digestive tract finishes removing the nutrients and other important materials from the food you eat, the resulting waste moves through your intestines, into your bowels, and the rectum stores it until it is ready to leave the body. Fecal incontinence, also called bowel or anal incontinence, defines what happens when you leak fecal matter and pass gas, exert yourself physically, can’t make it to the bathroom in time to relieve your urge to go, or lose complete bowel control. 

The muscles in your rectum and anus regulate bowel movements and have the ability to let your rectum stretch and hold stool, your sphincters (anal muscles) squeeze the rectum shut, and mentally you recognize body signals when it is time to go to the bathroom. If there are issues in any of these areas, you can experience incontinence to varying degrees depending on the cause and severity of the problem.

Causes and symptoms

Several conditions can lead to this form of incontinence, including:

  • Muscle damage: the muscles in your digestive tract are vital to proper bowel movement, and damage to the rectum and sphincter muscles can cause incontinence
  • Nerve damage: the nerves that control the anal sphincter and sense stool in the rectum can get damaged by stroke, diabetes, spinal cord injuries, and chronic constipation
  • Diarrhea: the loose fecal matter indicative of diarrhea can make existing problems with incontinence worse as it is harder to hold it in your rectum
  • Prolapse: this is the result of your rectum dropping down through your anus, and the stretching of the nerves and muscles can cause lasting damage and incontinence
  • Rectocele: in women, this is what happens if the rectum protrudes through your vagina

Symptoms of this condition can vary, ranging from mild bouts where slight leakage leads to streaks in your undergarments to complete loss of bowel control. Cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, flatulence, an irritated or itchy anus, or even urinary incontinence can be signs of this illness.

How we can help

We can manage the problems with incontinence using a combination of dietary changes and medications. Focusing more on eating fiber and less on fatty foods and processed snacks can help, along with using laxatives for problems stemming from constipation or antidiarrheal medications to manage symptoms, including excess leakage. 

Bowel training is also a method that can help, and if necessary, devices and surgeries are available to treat severe problems. Whatever the problem you may be having coping with this embarrassing condition, please reach out and let us help.

If you’re trying to cope with fecal incontinence and it’s affecting how you live, make an appointment with Dr. Mehta and LoneStar Gastroenterology today to help us help you.