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Fecal Incontinence

Digestive Disease Consultants of Orange County -  - Gastroenterologist

Digestive Disease Consultants of Orange County

Gastroenterologists located in Irvine, CA & Other Orange County Locations

Being unable to control your bowels can have a devastating effect on your self-esteem and make normal life a considerable challenge. Fortunately, the caring, compassionate experts at Digestive Disease Consultants of Orange County can help you deal with fecal incontinence, and in many cases, resolve your problem. You can feel confident in expert diagnosis and treatment, as well as professional understanding of your condition and its effects. Contact one of the offices in Irvine, Huntington Beach, Tustin, Foothill Ranch, and Mission Viejo, California, today or use the online booking form to schedule an appointment.

Fecal Incontinence

What is fecal incontinence?

Fecal incontinence means being unable to hold back your stools until you get to the toilet. You might experience a small amount of leakage on the way to the bathroom, or you may pass large quantities of stool.

Fecal incontinence can be a symptom of chronic illness or injury, or it may develop following surgery. 

Common causes of fecal incontinence include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  • Large hemorrhoids
  • Spinal cord injury or disease
  • Congenital abnormalities
  • Diabetes
  • Severe dementia
  • Tumors
  • Obstetric injuries

Surgeries that involve dilating or making incisions in your anal sphincter can also lead to fecal incontinence.

Fecal incontinence can have a serious impact on your quality of life. Not only are there the practical problems of not being able to hold on when you need the toilet, but there are also significant effects on your self-confidence and self-esteem.

How is fecal incontinence diagnosed?

To determine the cause of your fecal incontinence, your provider at Digestive Disease Consultants of Orange County conducts a physical exam, looks at your current health and medical history, and discusses your symptoms with you.

They might also schedule diagnostic imaging tests such as:

  • Anal manometry
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Anorectal ultrasound
  • Proctography
  • Proctosigmoidoscopy
  • Anal electromyography

These tests provide information about the way the nerves are functioning in your rectum and anus, and indicate the presence of any problems like inflammation in the tissues.

The treatment your provider at Digestive Disease Consultants of Orange County recommends for fecal incontinence depends on what's causing the problem. You can wear special underwear or fecal incontinence pads to help you regain confidence while you're undergoing treatment.

What medications are there for fecal incontinence?

Medication to treat constipation and diarrhea can help with fecal incontinence. 

If you have an inflammatory bowel disease like Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis, treating the condition with anti-inflammatories is often effective in reducing fecal incontinence. 

Some patients require other forms of medication, like steroids, immunosuppressants, or biologic medicines.

What other treatments are there for fecal incontinence?

Making dietary changes can improve your digestive health. If you have a condition like small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), rebalancing the healthy bacteria in your gut improves bowel health, too.

If the nerves in your rectum and anus aren't working properly, electrical stimulation can help. Your provider implants a device that creates small electronic pulses that improve the function of the nerves involved in regulating bowel movements.

There are also ways you can improve your ability to retain stools, such as muscle training and biofeedback. If your fecal incontinence is severe and there are no other options, you might need to consider surgery.

Don't feel embarrassed about seeking help for fecal incontinence, as professional treatment could transform your quality of life. Call Digestive Disease Consultants of Orange County today or book an appointment online.