About Bowel Incontinence
Even though it can be embarrassing to talk about, it's important to seek medical guidance when you're having difficulties going to the bathroom normally. Also called fecal incontinence, bowel incontinence is characterized by the inability to control one's bowel movements, which causes gas or feces to escape from the rectum involuntarily. This condition can range in severity from a small amount of feces escaping the rectum during gas movements to complete incapability to control one's stool expulsion. Our board-certified surgeons at Houston Colon and Rectal Surgery regularly see and treat patients with varying degrees of bowel incontinence so you will know that you're in good hands when you trust your quality of life to our expertise. Fecal incontinence can be caused by a number of factors so your treatment will depend on your unique circumstance. Contact our North Houston or West Houston, TX office today to learn more about your options.
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Signs and Symptoms
Since fecal incontinence can be caused by several different factors, our team will ask you questions to understand your medical history. Bowel incontinence can be brought on by diarrhea, constipation, muscle or nerve damage, age, or even childbirth. This condition can show itself differently from patient to patient. Three of the most common types of incontinence that men and women may experience are:
- Temporary incontinence: An occasional occurrence that can result when one is suffering from diarrhea and unable to fully control their bowel movements
- Urge incontinence: Accompanied by a sense of urgency to go, as well as an inability to control bowel movements when this urgency arises
- Passive incontinence: Occurs when one feels no sensation of needing to pass stool, which can result in soiling oneself
Bowel incontinence can range in severity from allowing some fecal matter to escape while passing gas to being fully incapable of controlling your bowel movements at all or even being unaware that you have to go. Patients who have issues with incontinence may experience a persistent sense of urgency to use the bathroom, runny stools, or diarrhea. If you also notice blood in your stool or urine, this could be a sign of a serious condition, such as Crohn's disease, a rectal tumor, or rectal prolapse. Our skilled surgeons will work with you to fully understand your situation and the care you require.
What to Expect
At the beginning of your appointment, one of our experienced colorectal surgeons will learn about the potential cause of your incontinence by asking you a series of questions related to your medical history, medication you are taking, and any current medical conditions you may have. Anything from your age to the number of times you have gone through childbirth could have an impact on your ability to control bowel movements. Once we have determined the cause of your fecal incontinence, we will perform some tests to help us discover the severity of your condition. This may include anal manometry, which involves inserting a short, flexible tube in the anus and rectum to measure the strength of the sphincter muscles, as well as rectal sensation. We may also run an MRI scan to attain a comprehensive view of the sphincter and pelvic floor muscles.
Bowel incontinence can leave many feeling ashamed and hopeless. Thankfully, there are a number of effective treatments available to address your unique condition. These include both surgical and nonsurgical means.
Nonsurgical treatments for fecal incontinence can include personalized diet plans, prescription medications to make your stool firmer or to treat underlying inflammatory diseases (such as Crohn's disease), and physical activity. Our surgeons may suggest different exercises you can try to help strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, which may help you control your bowel movements. If your incontinence is caused by constipation, we may advise you to adopt a diet that is rich in fiber. Certain foods and beverages, especially those with high amounts of caffeine, can act as laxatives so you may be asked to cease drinking soda and coffee, depending on your situation.
Surgical options for bowel incontinence management include surgical repair of the sphincter, the use of a nerve stimulator to help your nerves gain better control of the anal sphincter muscles, or injecting a bulk agent substance into the sphincter muscles to strengthen them. Extensive procedures, such as a colostomy, are only considered in the most severe cases when no other treatments have been successful. Our surgeons will work with you to make sure that you play an active role in the decision-making process of your treatment.
TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR LIFE
Don't let uncontrollable bowel movements take power over your life any longer. If you've noticed that you're at times or frequently incapable of making it to the bathroom in time, or if bowel incontinence has had a negative effect on your life, you should seek treatment immediately. Our skilled and compassionate team of colon and rectal surgeons at Houston Colon and Rectal Surgery can help you regain your quality of life once more. Contact our North Houston or West Houston, TX offices to schedule your appointment with a board-certified surgeon.