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What is fecal incontinence? What is constipation? How do we treat these conditions?

 

What is fecal incontinence?

Fecal incontinence is the inability to control bowel movements resulting in feces leaking from the rectum. This includes seepage. Fecal incontinence can be caused by many factors including muscle weakness, muscle damage, constipation, incomplete emptying, diarrhea, hemorrhoids, and rectal prolapse.

 

What is constipation?

Constipation is when stool becomes dry, hard, and difficult to pass. When constipated, bowel movements do not happen often (fewer than 3x a week) and can be painful. Sometimes those who are constipated feel bloated, uncomfortable, and even sluggish. When bowel movements do happen, it can be difficult to fully empty your bowels.

 

How do we treat fecal incontinence and constipation?

If you have clicked on my other links, you will notice a trend- “We treat what we find.” For fecal incontinence, you may need to fill out a bowel diary including bowel habits and food and fluid intake. This can help establish patterns. Are you not drinking enough? Are you eating enough fiber? Is incontinence happening when you eat a certain food? We also look for muscle tightness, weakness, and coordination deficits. We may use strengthening, stretching, relaxation techniques, breathing techniques, education on positioning on the toilet, intra-abdominal pressure management, urge control techniques, dietary changes, splinting, and so much more. I want to reiterate that your comfort level and beliefs dictate treatment. If you are opposed to any of the above, there are always several ways to “get things done.” Just because you do not feel comfortable with one option, this does not mean that we cannot help you get better.

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