A study presented at the American College of Gastroenterology found that the prevalence of faecal incontinence (defined as the accidental leakage of liquid /solid stool or mucus at least once in the preceding month) increased slightly between 2005 and 2010. The highlights of the study include the following:
- women are more likely than men to suffer from faecal incontinence
- faecal incontinence is associated with aging
- faecal incontinence is a frequent reason cited for admission to nursing homes
- faecal incontinence is underestimated, due to the shame associated with the condition; many patients fail to report the problem to their doctor due to embarrassment
- the overall prevalence of faecal incontinence was 7.74% (2005 to 2012)
- 9.59% of those participants older than 70 years experienced faecal incontinence
There are many causes of faecal incontinence, including altered bowel habits (diarrhea or constipation), nerve or muscle damage, loss of rectal tone, pelvic floor disorders and hemorrhoids.
Individuals who suffer from faecal incontinence should not suffer in silence. There are many treatments that can improve or cure fecal incontinence. Some of these include:
- changes in diet/nutrition
- pelvic floor exercises
- electrical stimulation (sacral nerve stimulation)
- bowel training
- surgery (i.e., sphincteroplasty, creation of artificial sphincter)
Faecal incontinence almost always has its roots in a medical condition that can be helped by one or more medical treatments. Patients should not be ashamed of the problem but should instead seek assistance from their doctor.