Bowel or faecal incontinence are terms used to describe liquid or solid leakage from the bowel or poor bowel control. It can be as minor as small pieces of faeces when passing wind (colloquially referred to as ‘following through’), to a complete loss of control.
It’s thought that as many as one in twenty people have this condition, but exact figures aren’t known as so many suffer in silence. And it’s not uncommon to have both urinary and faecal incontinence.
Like urinary incontinence, faecal incontinence is a symptom of an underlying issue, and when that has been identified, then the right remedy can be prescribed.
What are the causes of bowel leakage?
One of the leading causes of bowel incontinence is a weak pelvic floor muscle, compromising your ability to ‘hold on’. This weakness can be exacerbated by constipation, diarrhoea, poor bowel habits and history of bowel surgery.
Certain medications, such as antibiotics can change the intestinal bacterial balance, giving you diarrhoea or constipation. Medicines for diabetes and arthritis can also affect gut flora.
The bowel diseases Coeliac and Crohn's can adversely affect control, as can nerve conditions like diabetes, MS and Parkinson’s. Chemotherapy and radiation can play havoc with your regularity, and these changes can impact control.
It’s important to see your doctor
Although bowel incontinence itself isn’t life-threatening, the underlying condition might be serious, so don’t ignore it.
Further, the effect it can have on your life and mental health shouldn’t be underestimated. Some men socially isolate themselves or stop participating in activities they once enjoyed, when a discussion with their GP could be all it takes to start regaining control.
Treatments for male bowel incontinence
Treatment will, of course, depend on the cause identified by your doctor, but strengthening your pelvic floor muscle for greater control is a good start. You can learn about these exercises here
Paying attention to your diet, ensuring your consuming plenty of fibre with two serves of fruit and five of vegetables, plus whole grains and drinking 1.5 – 2 litres of water every day should help, as will keeping your body weight within the healthy range.
Understanding what a ‘normal’ bowel motion looks like may sound strange, but it’s important to monitor your results and progress of healthy bowel habits. The medical world uses ‘The Bristol Stool Chart’ which you can read about, along with the parameters of healthy bowel function, on the Continence Foundation of Australia website.
You can read about other treatments your doctor may recommend, including bowel training and surgery here.
Managing Bowel Incontinence
Specifically designed to assist with the management of faecal incontinence, TENA Duo Protection LayerTM is shaped to fit inside other TENA urinary products, such as TENA Flex or TENA Pants, and protect them from contamination.
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Asaleo Care makes no warranties or representations regarding the completeness or accuracy of the information. This information should be used only as a guide and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional, medical or other health professional advice.
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