Faecal incontinence can be distressing and can severely affect everyday life. Whatever the cause, faecal incontinence can sometimes be difficult to talk about with healthcare professionals, friends, or family. However, once faecal incontinence has been identified, there are treatments available that can help manage or sometimes cure it, as well as strategies to help people cope with the condition and discuss it openly.

What is faecal urgency?

Faecal urgency is the sudden, strong urge to use your bowels that makes you rush to the toilet to avoid an accident.

What is faecal incontinence?

Faecal incontinence refers to leakage of gas, liquid or solid waste (stool) from the bowel, due to the loss of bowel control. Signs of leakage can range from smearing, to total loss of bowel contents.

What is the ideal stool type?

A firm, sausage shaped stool (Type 3-4) that is firm but not hard. The paper should come away clean, with no excessive wiping. Type 5-7 stools generally mean the stool is moving too quickly, making your bowels harder to control.

 

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What causes urgency +/- incontinence?

  • stools that are too loose
  • Stools that move too quickly – certain foods, fluids and medications can irritate the bowel causing contents to move too fast through the bowel
  • Dysfunctional pelvic floor muscles, poor anal sphincter control

Other factors that may lead to loss of bowel control

  • Long-term straining – this weakens the pelvic floor
  • Going to the toilet without a strong urge “just in case”. This leads to straining and a feeling that your bowel is not quite empty
  • Lifestyle – eg: heavy lifting, impact exercise, chronic cough can lead to weak pelvic floor muscles
  • Stress and Anxiety
  • Lifestyle – eg: shift work, travel
  • Childbirth – tearing, big babies, forceps/vacuum extraction
  • Medications – eg: antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, diabetic medication, anti-depressants and medications for gout
  • Diabetes
  • Bowel disease – eg: Coeliac disease, Crohn’s disease
  • Bowel surgery

What is the treatment for faecal urgency/constipation?

To rule out any medical causes that may be contributing to your urgency/incontinence, it is best to first see your General Practitioner. Once everything else has been cleared, you can come and see a Pelvic Health Physiotherapist.

How can seeing a pelvic health physiotherapist help?

After ascertaining your goals, a Pelvic Health Physiotherapist will take a detailed history and physical examination (if required). Using a holistic approach, individualised recommendations will be made which may include:

  • Dietary and fluid modifications including changes to dietary fibre intake or fibre supplementation
  • Pelvic floor muscle strengthening exercises
  • Techniques to de-sensitize the bowel
  • Teaching the safest and most efficient way to empty your bowels
  • Showing you the best way to sit on a toilet
  • Physical activity guidelines
  • Teaching effective relaxation techniques
  • Over the counter medication recommendations
  • Liaison with other health care professionals such as GPs, dieticians, psychologists

If you are experiencing faecal urgency / incontinence and would like to know more, call us to make an appointment on (08) 6389 2947 or click here to book online with one of our experiences incontinence physios in Nedlands today.

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