Bowel incontinence is the involuntary loss of bowel contents, including flatus and faeces. The causes may be of neurogenic, muscular or textural nature. However, an individually-developed bowel management makes it possible to maintain continence and to mostly avoid incontinence issues.
Specific forms of diarrhoea
Diarrhoea is the technical term for loose stool. Diarrhoea is frequent defecation, often in liquid form. Diarrhoea often causes incontinence.
In this form of diarrhoea, the colon is blocked by an obstacle (collection of a large amount of hard stool, tumour) and only liquid stool can pass the obstacle. This means that liquid stool is excreted, even though the problem is constipation.
Overflow incontinence is caused if the rectum is emptied only insufficiently. The permanent filling of the rectum (faecal impaction) weakens the internal anal sphincter. Therefore the stool that liquefies above the faecal impaction can pass it. This results in uncontrollable defecation.
What can I do in the case of recurring incontinence?
Check your dietary habits
- Increase consumption of fibres
- Take note of the foods you are eating to detect a possible reason for the diarrhoea
Optimise defecation management
- Empty rectum manually
- More frequent defecation
- Apply colon irrigation
Check and adjust medication
- Use osmotic laxatives and swelling agents (e.g. Movicol®, Metamucil®)
- Check whether medication has effects on the intestines (e.g. antibiotics, iron tablets)
If these measures do not reduce the problem and the incontinence issues prevail, further diagnostics need to be considered to find out the exact cause.
Incontinence can cause irritation and damage to the skin within a short time. Liquid stool can be very aggressive on the skin and lead to erythema and skin sores in the anal area.
There are various kinds of pads, depending on how severe the incontinence symptoms are. However, pads increase the likeliness of getting pressure sores on the buttocks and it is better not to use them if possible.
If incontinence cannot be fully controlled, tampon suppositories may be an alternative for doing sports activities, such as swimming. However, anal tampons can only be used for a limited time. Using them for a whole day is not an alternative to pads since they may cause pressure sores in the anal area.
Protection of the skin
If severe skin irritations due to incontinence occur, it is important to protect the skin in the anal area. Only a thin layer of cream and ointment should be applied, and then removed completely:
- e.g. “Oxyplastine® Wundpaste” (rash paste with zinc oxide)
- “Bepanthen® Salbe” – may be applied as is or mixed 1 : 1 with Oxyplastine rash paste
- 3M™Cavilon™ long-term skin protection lotion for healthy skin; for already damaged and sore skin use “3M™Cavilon™ Reizfreier Hautschutz”
How can zinc paste be removed easily and without having to rub it off?
The best thing to use is oil – either baby oil or cooking oil.