A very common misconception surrounding bowel incontinence is that it only affects the elderly and women who experienced a complicated birth. Contrary to what many believe, it is a fact that as many as 1 in 12 adults are affected by this common condition. In fact, despite being healthy in every other aspect, people of all ages can suffer from the loss or difficulty of bowel control.
Sadly, although many people do suffer from fecal incontinence, most people are ashamed of seeking treatment because the condition is seen as “embarrassing”. As a way to alleviate the stigma and shame revolving around this common, but a severely underreported condition, here are some basic facts about bowel incontinence:
What Is Fecal Incontinence?
The condition is characterized by a lack of bowel movement control. Often times, people who suffer from bowel or fecal incontinence find that stool leaks from the rectum and they have no control over it. Other common symptoms can include constipation, the sudden urge to defecate that a person cannot control, or soiling oneself without even realizing you needed to go to the toilet.
The severity of the condition varies from person to person. A sign of a mild condition is the passing of a small amount of fecal matter upon breaking wind. In more severe cases, a person has lost the total control of their bowels.
What Are The Common Causes?
There are different instances that can cause bowels to leak. However, the following factors may increase the chances of the condition occurring:
Nerve damage caused by conditions that may affect the series of nerves responsible for bowel control. Conditions like multiple sclerosis and long-term diabetes are common in patients with severe fecal incontinence.
Alzheimer’s disease is also a leading cause of the condition as most people with the disease also suffer from nerve damage as well as dementia.
People with physical disabilities can also suffer from the condition as they can find it difficult to reach the bathroom in time to defecate.
Complications during childbirth increase the likelihood of women experiencing the condition more often than men.
Common stomach problems such as diarrhea can also lead to the accidental release of bowels.
Is The Condition Life-Threatening?
Accidental bowel leakage (ABL), another name for the condition, is not hazardous or life-threatening. However, due to the embarrassing nature associated with fecal matter, the condition can affect a person’s self-esteem, emotional health, mental health, and their overall quality of life.
Is Treatment Necessary?
In many mild cases of ABL, the condition resolves itself without any medical intervention. However, in some cases that are more severe, there are different treatment options available. Consulting with a physician as soon as possible is recommended to find the right course of action.
There Is No Shame In Fecal Incontinence
People should stop thinking that fecal incontinence is a shameful condition. It is very common and can be treated effectively when addressed early on. Do not be ashamed of your condition and see your GP as soon as possible to prevent ABL from affecting your everyday life.
The cause of bowel incontinence may vary. It is best to consult your doctor to make sure you are properly guided.