Faecal Incontinence

Faecal Incontinence Your Health

About This Condition

About Faecal Incontinence

You’re not alone if you’re frustrated by bowel control problems. Millions of people experience bowel issues at some time.

Definition

Bowel control problems prevent you from controlling when and how often you go to the bathroom. You may experience unexpected small or large leaks, use the bathroom very frequently, have difficulty clearing your bowel, or feel you are unable to completely empty your bowel. Some people experience a combination of these symptoms.


Causes

There are a variety of causes of changes in bowel function. It can be structural, such as nerve or muscular damage caused by surgery, pregnancy, or injury. Some medications influence the gut's functioning. Other conditions and diseases may also lead to incontinence, such as diabetes and Parkinson’s disease.

Problems can arise due to diet, excessive weight, and lack of exercise. Travelling and changes in habits contribute to the gut's health and can cause temporary problems.


Symptoms

The symptoms of bowel leakage include: 

  • Urgency
  • Inability to make it to the toilet
  • Staining due to lack of control 

Risk Factors

Women who have had children by vaginal delivery, older people (up to 25% of those living in care1), and people who've had trauma, such as an accident or surgery or a stroke, are at an increased risk of faecal incontinence.

Conditions such as diabetes or Parkinson's disease can cause bowel problems. People who have an inflammatory bowel disease or irritable bowel syndrome can find themselves running for the toilet or may experience leakage.

Diet, lifestyle choices, and exercise are also risk factors. Smoking, drinking alcohol, obesity, and lack of exercise are all factors that increase the risk of bowel problems.


Diagnosis

Talk to your doctor about your symptoms and how they are affecting your day-to-day life. Your doctor will make a diagnosis based on your symptoms.


Reference

1

Royal College of Physicians. (23.11.2005) Inadequate and Incomplete – Continence Care in the UK. Press release http://www.rcplondon.ac.uk. (Accessed 10.10.2006).


This website is intended to be educational and is not to be used as a diagnostic tool. It is not intended to replace the information provided to you by your healthcare providers and does not constitute medical advice. The information may not be directly applicable for your individual clinical circumstance. Please talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.