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Do you suffer from accidental bowel leakage (ABL)? Bowel and Bladder UK estimates that 1 in 10 adults will have some form of bowel control problem at some point in their lives.
This chronic condition can be very upsetting and embarrassing and can affect people in different ways.
It can also cause a lot of distress in everyday activities such as working and social activities or thinking about special moments in life, such as holidays with loved ones.
It’s important to understand your symptoms and seek medical advice, but firstly, this guide will help provide some insight on the condition.
What is accidental bowel leakage?
Accidental bowel leakage (also referred to as fecal incontinence) is when you have a loss of control over bowel movement, which can lead to leakage of solid or liquid stool (feces) or gas.
What causes accidental bowel leakage?
Accidental bowel leakage can occur when there are issues with muscles or nerves in the rectum and pelvis. There are lots of possible causes, often it’s a combination of problems including:
- Severe or long-lasting constipation or diarrhoea
- Inflammatory bowel disease (such as Crohn’s disease)
- Conditions affecting the nerves in your bottom, such as a stroke or diabetes
- Childbirth damaging muscles or nerves that control your bowels
Common signs and symptoms of ABL include:
- Severe constipation
- Sudden urges to poo that you can’t control
- Stool that is too liquid or loose
- Soiling yourself without realising you needed the toilet
- Loss of feeling in your rectum
If you suffer from any of these or have similar symptoms, then book an appointment to see your GP.
Are there any treatments for accidental bowel leakage?
There are many options for treatment for accidental bowel leakage that can help the reduce the impact it has on your lifestyle. The type of treatment you have depends on the problem and how severe it is.
While these are helpful, it’s important that you avoid trying to self-diagnose yourself and deal with the problem by yourself and that you seek medical advice to find out the cause and what treatment works best for you.
Changes to your diet
Cutting out food and drink that is likely to make your symptoms worse can help control accidental bowel leakage triggers and improve your lifestyle. For example, eating foods more high in fibre like fruit, vegetables and wholegrains and drinking plenty of water will help reduce constipation.
Whereas cutting down on high-fibre foods, in addition to avoiding alcohol and caffeine will help reduce diarrhoea.
If you book an appointment with your doctor and explain your symptoms, your doctor can prescribe certain medication to help reduce constipation and diarrhoea.
Help strengthen the muscles used to control your bowels and try introducing pelvic floor exercises into a new or existing workout regime.
There are lots of options that can now help with accidental bowel leakage, including pads you can wear in your underwear or small plugs to put in your bottom.
Looking for extra support?
Ask our experts about Accidental Bowel Leakage for MS
Renew Medical UK and talkhealth are teaming up to offer patients the opportunity to ask leading clinical experts questions about bowel leakage for those adults with MS in our upcoming Accidental Bowel Leakage for MS Ask the Expert session.
Our panel of leading experts Debbie Gordon, Sharon Holroyd and Polly Weston are available to answer questions on issues related to adult bowel leakage for MS between 17-20 June.
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