Faecal Incontinence Management Tips for Individuals and Carers

Faecal incontinence has many causes and is more common than you may assume. Knowing why faecal incontinence occurs is the first step in finding support for the long term.

Faecal Incontinence Management Tips for Individuals and Carers

Faecal incontinence has many causes and is more common than you may assume. Knowing why faecal incontinence occurs is the first step in finding support for the long term.

Faecal Incontinence Management

Faecal incontinence is a common occurrence for Australians of all ages. While many people may assume that this form of incontinence is related to either young or old age, faecal incontinence has many causes, with no age limits on who may experience it.

Faecal incontinence occurs when an individual is unable to control their bowel movements, resulting in the leaking of stool without warning. This may be as small as a little leakage during gas passing through to the complete loss of bowel control.

If you or a loved one is experiencing faecal incontinence, one of the best steps you can take is to normalise the conversation. By avoiding the subject, faecal incontinence can become significantly problematic on a daily basis. Instead, healthily manage it through the combination of incontinence products, lifestyle changes and medication.

Faecal Incontinence Management

The signs of faecal incontinence

There are multiple types of faecal incontinence, including urge incontinence and passive incontinence. Urge incontinence occurs when the need for a bowel movement comes on suddenly and urgently, with the individual unable to stop it. Passive incontinence occurs when the individual is unaware they even need to pass stool. Faecal incontinence can also take place alongside a suite of bowel problems, including diarrhoea, constipation or bloating.

Some ways faecal incontinence makes itself known include:

    • Leaking of the stool during the passing of gas
    • Leaking of the stool during physical activity
    • The urge to go without the ability to control it until you reach a bathroom
    • The presence of stool in underwear after a normal bowel movement
    • Complete loss of bowel control
    • Faecal smearing on underwear

As with any changes to health, seeing a doctor is the first port of call if you suspect you or your loved one has developed faecal incontinence. This can be the start of a process that sees you equipped to protect against the impact of faecal incontinence throughout each day. Allow everyday life to continue even as incontinence occurs.

Faecal Incontinence Management

How does faecal incontinence occur?

Our bodies are home to sophisticated organs and systems, each tasked with the necessary responsibilities that keep us alive and well each day. Controlling and passing bowel movements are no different. When key players in this system don’t follow standard procedures, faecal incontinence may be the result.

    • The muscles that connect the rectum and the anus are no longer working properly
    • The rectum is unable to provide a ‘rectal sensation’, which is how our body warns us of the need to pass a bowel movement
    • The anal muscles are unable to squeeze the anus shut, resulting in stool or gas leaving the body without warning
    • A lack of physical and mental abilities that recognise the signals that it’s time to pass a bowel movement
    • An inability to reach the bathroom in time
    • Problems in stool consistency, resulting in watery/uneven stools that are difficult to properly control and manage
Faecal Incontinence Management

Why does faecal incontinence occur?

While those are the physical or mental reasons for faecal incontinence occurring, what leads to these changes in the first place?

By learning about the wide range of experiences that can impact our ability to naturally control our bowel movements, we can remove some of the negativity or shame associated with these experiences.

1. Frequent diarrhoea or constipation

If an individual has experienced frequent, heightened diarrhoea or constipation, they may be more at risk of developing faecal incontinence. These conditions can lead to a weakening in the rectum and anus muscles, causing degradation over time to the quality of these muscles and their ability to function as necessary.

2. Muscle damage

It’s common for women to experience muscle damage that can impact their ability to control stools during challenging vaginal childbirths. If doctors perform an episiotomy to make a larger opening, muscle damage may result, leading to ongoing problems with faecal incontinence. This is also a risk from anal or rectal surgery.

3. Ageing

Much like other bodily functions, the muscles in the rectum and anus grow weaker with age. This can lead to problems with controlling faecal matter as a result of loose stools and ongoing degradation. Pelvic floor or Kegal exercises can help this.

4. Nerve damage

Nerves play a significant role in sharing information about bodily functions with the brain. If there’s damage to the nerves that control the rectum and anus muscles, this can result in faecal incontinence. Some health conditions, such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis, strokes or certain tumours, can result in nerve damage that has an impact on the rectum and anus muscles’ abilities to communicate.

5. Lifestyle

A wide range of lifestyle choices and experiences can also lead to faecal incontinence, including the uncontrolled/excessive use of laxatives, certain medications and some diet choices. It’s important to discuss any early faecal incontinence with your healthcare provider in order to identify opportunities/possibilities to improve symptoms via lifestyle management.

Faecal Incontinence Management

Faecal incontinence management tips

While adjusting to faecal incontinence may be a learning curve, there are plenty of management approaches that can minimise the impact it has on the individual’s quality of life.

Using the right kind of incontinence products

The best incontinence products are designed to provide necessary protection for faecal incontinence. Whether you’re in need of a mild form, such as an absorbent incontinence pad, or a product with heavy absorbency, you can find powerful support for faecal incontinence through a high-quality incontinence product.

Remember, stool will not absorb into a pad as it has varying levels of solid particles. It is also important to change soiled pads regularly to preserve skin. As such, if you are dealing with faecal incontinence only, you only need a low absorbency product.

If you’re not sure where to find the right product for your needs, ConfidenceClub’s Help Me Choose guide can make all the difference in finding your perfect fit.

Bowel training

Some health professionals may advise bowel training as one way to help minimise the impact of faecal incontinence. The development of regular bowel movements can take some time, but it can be of great use in improving incontinence experiences.

Prescription medicines

Over-the-counter medication is available to treat certain versions of faecal incontinence, but those with chronic and ongoing incontinence may find that a stronger prescription medicine is useful in long-term solutions. These medications can often treat the underlying cause of the incontinence, leading to recovery over an ongoing time period. As always, we recommend you seek Medical advice and not self-medicate for ongoing health issues.

Faecal Incontinence Management

Confidence and support for your everyday needs

Regardless of why you or your loved one are experiencing incontinence, it’s important to find management tools and techniques that can offer support throughout everyday life.

ConfidenceClub is passionate about eliminating the burden of managing incontinence through products that are easy, positive and preferred, providing necessary support to thousands of Australians. Find the incontinence products you need to manage faecal incontinence and live every day to the full.

If you have any questions about our product range, you can speak to our customer service team 6 days a week, by calling 1800 86 11 99 or emailing hello@confidenceclub.com.au. We also have an online chat on our website. We’re here to help!

We hope this article has helped shed some light on what to expect regarding faecal incontinence. Why not check out our other helpful articles while you’re here?

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