What is Stool Incontinence?

Our digestive system breaks down the nutrients in the food that we eat and are absorbed by the body to be used for muscle contractions. Different people have different metabolism and each of us digest our food intake differently. Some people can eat almost anything without any stomach upset. Some people get indigestion by drinking milk. These differences may be caused by a deficiency of digestive enzymes in the stomach or preponderance thereof.

When our stomach is upset we may experience the following symptoms:

  • Bloated feeling
  • Gas or flatulence
  • Hyperacidity
  • Belching
  • Gut pain
  • Spasm
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Constipation

The most common reaction of our bowel to any disturbance is stool incontinence or diarrhoea. This is the involuntary passage of watery stool with alarming frequency. A normal bowel moves once or twice a day at anytime depending on the person’s toilet habits. With incontinence, bowel movement is loose, frequent and uncomfortable. If diarrhoea is ignored and not treated within 24 hours, dehydration sets in and serious complications may occur.

Bowel disturbance is a symptom of several underlying reasons such as:

  • Crohn’s disease
  • Colon cancer
  • Coeliac disease
  • Colitis
  • Gastroenteritis
  • Gastritis
  • Lactose intolerance
  • Food allergies
  • Intestinal bacteria
  • Intestinal parasites
  • Reaction to certain antibiotics
  • Stress

Treatment for bowel incontinence depends on the underlying cause. Upon the onset of the symptoms, it is recommended to seek medical advice. An internist or a gastroenterologist can help you determine the causative factors and start treatment that is focused on the real problem.  Series of laboratory tests and diagnostic analysis are needed before your doctor is able to make a medical prognosis. Several treatment options may be tried to treat the symptoms which may include:

  • Fibre. If the bowel problem is constipation, a fibre-rich diet is recommended. Fibre is found in many fruits, vegetables, cereals, whole meal bread, and other natural foods. It is not absorbed by the body and goes down to the intestines as a binding component of our faeces.
  • Proper Diet. Some foods may irritate our bowels.  Fatty and spicy foods, alcohol and carbonated beverages may cause hyperacidity in some people. Consult the food pyramid and choose what food from the different food groups would sit well in your stomach.  Lactose intolerance and allergy to dairy products are not uncommon, avoidance is the best solution.
  • Lifestyle Change. Eat a regular meal. Skipping meals while working or on diet is not a good habit to keep. Working on an empty stomach deprives your body of the much needed nutrients necessary to be healthy. Avoid eating in a rush; chew the food slowly to give your stomach a time to digest the small portions.
  • Water Therapy. Water cleanses our system and helps the body flush out the toxins. Water neutralizes the acid in our stomach and helps soften the stool for easy passage. Replace caffeine, carbonated and alcoholic drinks with plain water.
  • Probiotic Agents. Certain antibiotics kill some of the friendly bacteria that are naturally present in our gut. Discontinue use of the antibiotic if it is causing you diarrhoea or constipation. Probiotic agents help in restoring the presence of these bacteria.
  • Physical Exercise. Lose excess weight if you are overweight.  Working out relieves tension and stress. Exercise helps in digestion and faster absorption of the nutrients by the body.
  • Hypnotherapy. Hypnosis may work on some people by relieving stress and emotional trauma. This only works in people who believe in it and are willing to be hypnotized.
  • Medication. Loperamides are effective for common diarrhoea. This type of medicine works as a plug to stop loose bowel movement. However, this is not advisable for toxic guts. Anti-spasmodic medicines ease the spastic pain and calm the stomach nerves. Laxatives are given to constipated people but should be taken sparingly.  Anti-depressants help in calming spastic or overactive bowel by reducing the involuntary contractions of the intestines.

Whatever is causing your stool incontinence, it is good to remember three things; eat moderately, abstain from your triggers and always think positively.

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Filed under: Bowel Incontinence

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