This is one of the most unpleasant and embarrassing health problems from which one can suffer. Healthy people take for granted the ability to control their natural functions. Fecal incontinence takes away the capacity to control when they excrete and when they release gas. It takes little imagination to appreciate the debilitating effects of this ailment. The severity of incontinence varies between individuals. It is hard to know how widespread it is. According to some estimates, as many as one in twenty-five Americans might suffer from this problem to some extent. Approximately one-third of those affected are over the age of 65.
This is the most accessible and most popular fecal incontinence treatment, but it obviously only protects the body and clothing against soiling rather than solving the issue. These absorbent pads provide a limited level of protection most appropriate to less severe forms of incontinence. In addition to their use by individuals, they have come into widespread use in residential homes for the elderly and other groups. Nursing staff would be hard-pressed to maintain any semblance of cleanliness without putting adult diapers on their incontinent residents.
The extent medications can effectively treat fecal incontinence varies in line with the cause and extent of the problem. Drugs are most helpful against incontinence that takes a diarrhea form. In complete contrast, they also help if the incontinence occurs due to constipation. Someone who has a mild and occasional problem can find relief from medications sold over the counter at the pharmacy. The more severe and prolonged incontinence issues require a medical checkup. After this, the doctor may prescribe medications or some other treatment.
Changes in diet could resolve milder forms of fecal incontinence, especially diarrhea. At the most basic level, many know that foods like bananas and plain cooked white rice help rid a person of diarrhea. Solving more severe incontinence situations requires a consultation with a doctor and perhaps a dietician. They will investigate if certain foods and drinks aggravate the problem. They have the knowledge to recommend the changes in diet most likely to bring about the desired improvement. Natural food experts also have their approach to solving fecal incontinence with diet changes.
Exercise programs also help to relieve certain fecal incontinence symptoms. In particular, experts recommend exercises that strengthen and relax the muscles of the anus and pelvis. The extent these Kegel exercises help depends on the nature of the incontinence problem. Ask a doctor if he or she thinks an exercise program can help, and obtain advice on how to do the exercises and how often to do them. Even though books are available, the doctor might suggest the patient has biofeedback therapy that teaches how best to perform pelvic exercises.
Someone who suffers from fecal incontinence might assume that only medication or surgery can restore control over bowel movements, but experience shows this is not necessarily the case. For some patients, doctors suggest a self-training bowel control program. With sufficient willpower, the patient can develop a schedule, for example, to have a bowel movement after a meal. It takes time, effort, and a considerable amount of patience. The program could take months to bring real relief, but it is possible to do.
Biological differences between male and females mean that there are some differences in treatments. For example, women may develop incontinence after giving birth, and those who have many children are more likely to face such issues. Doctors sometimes recommend a vaginal balloon. The doctor places this device inside the vagina, so it exerts pressure on the wall of the rectum. In this manner, it prevents stools from passing. The balloon is adjustable if the patient feels it to be too tight or lose.
This process treats a specific type of fecal incontinence that usually happens due to an injury a woman incurs during delivery. It involves a surgical operation in a hospital operating room with the patient under a general anesthetic. She will need to stay in the hospital overnight. This process improves the effectiveness of the anal muscles, but some studies cast doubt on their long-term benefits. Some patients suffer from a reoccurrence of fecal incontinence later in their lives.
Another of the ways doctors try to solve fecal incontinence issues involves manipulating the operation of the sacral nerves. These control the exit of waste from the bowels. If the sacral nerves do not perform their task efficiently, it might help to stimulate them artificially through electrical pulses. This requires the doctor to place very thin wires under the patient's skin in the area where the sacral nerves are located. At the other end, these wires attach to a battery-powered device that generates the pulses. The procedure compares in some respects to the more common heart pacemaker.
One of the more modern techniques for tackling fecal incontinence injects the patient with biomaterials. Silicone is one of the most popular of these biomaterials injected into the anal to reinforce the muscles. The patient usually requires a local anesthetic. Most commonly, they receive this treatment as an outpatient in the doctor's clinic. Part of the appeal of this treatment approach is the lack of a requirement for invasive surgery and hospitalization.
In certain instances, the easier treatment methods fail to deliver the results patient and doctor desire. The patient might require a colostomy. It is easy to understand why the patient might hesitate before undertaking this operation. A colostomy is an invasive surgery under a general anesthetic. It causes the bowel to empty into a bag on the wall of the abdomen. While it carries risks of infection and bleeding, many patients find it effectively cures their fecal incontinence.
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