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Loss of Control of Bowel Movements (Fecal Incontinence)


 What is fecal incontinence?
 What is the cause?
 What are the symptoms?
 How is it diagnosed?
 How is it treated?
 How can I take care of myself and help prevent accidents?

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What is fecal incontinence?

Fecal incontinence is loss of control of your bowel movements. It means that you have bowel movements that you cannot stop from coming out.

What is the cause?

Many kinds of things can cause fecal incontinence, for example:

What are the symptoms?

The main symptom is leaking of bowel movement, or having a complete or partial bowel movement that you are not aware of or cannot control. If it happens often, you may need to wear protective underwear (incontinence briefs or pads).

How is it diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms and medical history and examine you.

You may have tests to look for nerve, muscle, or coordination problems, such as:

How is it treated?

Treatment depends on the cause. If constipation is the cause, or if constipation is making bowel movements more irritating, the treatment may include:

In rare cases, surgery may be needed. It may be done to:

How can I take care of myself and help prevent accidents?

healthinformatics info

References

Matthews, CA et al. Risk factors for urinary, fecal or dual incontinence in the Nurses’ Health Study. Obstet Gynecol. 2013;122(3):539.

Health in Aging website: http://www.healthinaging.org. Accessed 5/17/2014.

La Torre, F. and de la Portilla F. Long-term efficacy of dextranomer in stabilized hyaluronic acid (NASHA/Dx) for treatment of fecal incontinence. Colorectal Dis 2013;l15(5)569.

Feldman: Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease, 9th ed.; Saunders 2010; CHAPTER 17 - Fecal Incontinence (accessed via MD-Consult, June 19, 2011).

Drossman DA; Li Z; Andruzzi E; Temple RD; Talley NJ; Thompson WG; Whitehead WE; Janssens J; Funch-Jensen P; Corazziari E; et al. U.S. householder survey of functional gastrointestinal disorders. Prevalence, sociodemography, and health impact. Dig Dis Sci 1993 Sep;38(9):1569-80.



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Last Modified: 2014-05-29

Last Reviewed: 2014-05-28

Website Updated: October 2014

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This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.


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