By definition, fecal incontinence refers to an uncontrollable bowel movement or the unintentional passing of feces or mucus from the rectum. Regardless of age or sex, fecal incontinence is a condition suffered by millions of people all over the world; and due to the sensitivity of the matter, it is one not widely discussed. The exact causes of fecal incontinence vary; and to properly determine the most effective fecal incontinence treatment, the care of a healthcare professional such as a urogynecologist will be necessary. Fortunately, the issue sometimes requires only simple lifestyle changes in order to control.
What Really Gets Things Moving?
Though fecal incontinence may occur at any age, this unfortunate form of defecatory dysfunction is most common in older adults, most specifically in older women.
Some of the most significant factors that may increase the likelihood of developing the condition include:
- A pelvic floor dysfunction which has damaged the strength of the pelvic floor muscles
- Chronic illness
- Nervous system damage or disorders
- Chronic diarrhea
- Loss of elasticity in the rectum
- Chronic Constipation
- Damage to the muscles of the sphincter
- Vaginal delivery during childbirth
- Lack of physical activity
Making the Right Moves
Depending on the exact cause for an individual’s involuntary bowel movement, treatment options may include:
- Use of an electrical stimulation device
- Pelvic floor dysfunction exercises
- Training the bowel
- Alterations to diet and nutrition
- Increasing the amount of physical activity
Testing the Action
Diagnosis can most effectively be made only after a full medical history has been taken, medical tests have been run, and a physical examination has been conducted. Most often, these diagnostic tests include an ultrasound of the anus; MRI testing; anal EMG or electromyography; colonoscopy; anal manometry; or defecography. Each of these is extremely beneficial in identifying such things as colon structure and function, muscle strength, function of the bowel, physical condition of the sphincter, and structure of the rectum.
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