Faecal incontinence

Faecal incontinence is the inability to control bowel movements, leading to the involuntary leaking of stool from the rectum.

Overview

Faecal incontinence is the inability to control bowel movements, leading to the involuntary leaking of stool from the rectum. Common causes include a weak or damaged pelvic floor and sphincter muscles. Neurological problems such as a stroke or dementia can also cause faecal incontinence. Pelvic floor exercises or a change in diet can improve the situation.

Symptoms

  • Involuntary leakage of bodily waste

Causes and treatment

Causes

  • Faecal incontinence is a symptom rather than a diagnosis
Anatomical causes
Neurological problems

Other causes

  • Stress
  • Medication (e.g. laxatives)

Further treatment by your doctor / in hospital

Possible tests
  • Anal examination
  • Ultrasound (sonography)
  • Measurement of anal pressure
  • Colonoscopy with removal of tissue samples
  • X-ray imaging using a contrast agent
  • CT scan (computed tomography) or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)
Possible therapies
  • Therapy depends on the cause
  • Change your diet
  • Medication
  • Physiotherapy
  • Strengthening of sphincter and pelvic floor muscles
  • Electrical stimulation / neurostimulation
  • Surgery, if necessary
    • Treatment of haemorrhoids or rectal prolapse
    • Reconstruction of sphincter muscle

What can I do myself?

  • Pelvic floor exercises
  • High-fibre diet
  • Sufficient exercise
  • Drink enough fluids – especially if constipated
  • Make a conscious effort to have bowel movements according to a fixed schedule
  • Try out incontinence aids (pads, pants, etc.)
  • Body hygiene (change underwear more frequently, shower every day)
  • Skincare

When to see a doctor?

  • Blood in stool
  • Generally after several involuntary bowel movements
  • Painful and severely reddened anus, possibly with fever

Further information

Selbsthilfe Schweiz (Self-Help Support Switzerland)
www.selbsthilfeschweiz.ch

Synonyms

faecal incontinence, stool incontinence

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CSS offers no guarantee for the accuracy and completeness of the information. The information published is no substitute for professional advice from a doctor or pharmacist.

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