How Bowel Incontinence is Treated?

Bowel incontinence

, also known as

fecal incontinence,

is a pathological condition where the person do not have control over his bowels. He may not be able to hold a bowel movement till he get to a toilet. Also, sometimes the stool may leak from the rectum unexpectedly, while passing gas.

Damage to muscles and nerves supplying anal sphincter is the main cause of bowel incontinence. It may occur as a symptom in medical conditions such as rectal prolapse, inflammatory bowel disease and severe hemorrhoids. It may be a consequence of rectal, bowel or gynecological surgery.

More than

5.5 million

people in America have fecal incontinence. People of all ages can have it. Some of the diagnostic modalities of fecal incontinence are anal manometry, anorectal ultrasonography, proctography, proctosigmoidoscopy and anal electromyography.

How Bowel Incontinence is Treated

The type of treatment purely depends on the cause and severity of the incontinence. Modalities of the treatment include dietary changes, bowel training, medications and surgery.

Dietary Changes:

Those having fecal incontinence must have dietary changes in order to manage the treatment. They should avoid foods that affect the consistency of stool. They should increase fiber in the diet and give up drinks that may worse the condition – like tea, coffee or chocolate. They should also avoid the foods that cause diarrhea. For example,

  • Smoked meat such as ham, sausage, or turkey
  • Spicy foods
  • Dairy products such as cheese, milk, or ice cream
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Spicy foods
  • Fatty and greasy foods
  • Fruits such as peaches, apples, or pears
  • Artificial sweeteners


Antidiarrheal medications are mainly prescribed. For example, loperamide and diphenoxylate. They help in incontinence by decreasing the stool motility.

Bowel Training:

Specific muscle training exercises, called

Kegels exercises

, are recommended to strengthen the rectum and improve the rectal sensitivity. These exercises helps in restoring muscle tone of sphincter muscles which can even eliminate anal incontinence totally.


Surgery may be needed for those who do not respond to the above treatment options. Following are the surgical procedures that are used to treat the extreme cases of the incontinence:

  • Colostomy
  • Cecostomy
  • Artificial anal sphincter
  • Stimulated graciloplasty
  • Antegrade continent enema stoma
  • Sacral nerve stimulation

You can get more information about causes and diagnosis of bowel incontinence in a related article in this site.

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