Bowel Incontinence

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Bowel / faecal incontinence or accidental bowel leakage (ABL) is when someone has challenges controlling their bowels. It can cause an accidental bowel movement of solid or liquid stools (poo). It’s a distressing occurrence that can affect men, women, and children and can impact their daily life.

Symptoms of Bowel Incontinence can include the urgency to poo, soiling and leakage.

Sometimes bowel incontinence can be an isolated incident but if it happens more frequently it could be a sign of an underlying health condition or damage to the muscles around the anus. Women are affected by accidental bowel leakage twice as often as men.

Constipation is a common condition affecting people of all ages. It is estimated around 1 in every 7 adults have constipation at any one time. It affects twice as many women as men and is more common in older adults and pregnancy.

Infrequent passing of stools, stools that are difficult to pass or hard stools, bloating and nausea can all be associated with constipation. Constipation can have a variety of causes including not enough fibre or fluid in your diet, reduced activity levels, a change in routine and could be a side effect of medication. Sometimes no obvious cause is found.

Treatment or management of Bowel Incontinence or Constipation can include dietary and fluid advice. Incontinence products might be recommended and can include anal inserts, pads, or trans anal irrigation (TAI).  There is also medication available.

It is important that you speak to a healthcare professional who can advise you of the best treatment plan to help your symptoms, especially if you have noticed a change in your normal habit that has continued for 3 weeks or more. They can offer specialist recommendations. Many people suffer silently due to the stigma and embarrassment associated with the condition but there is help available.


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