Fecal Incontinence Treatment in Denver, CO
Fecal incontinence is a condition patients often don’t want to talk about. It can be embarrassing, and many are apprehensive about ever bringing their symptoms to a doctor’s attention. At Rocky Mountain Gastroenterology, we strive to break the stigma around this and other GI conditions. Our Denver, CO professionals work with patients struggling with fecal incontinence to manage their conditions and find the relief they deserve.
What Is Fecal Incontinence and What Causes It?
Fecal incontinence is the inability to control bowel movements, which causes stool to leak unexpectedly from the rectum. This condition ranges from an occasional leakage of stool while passing gas to a complete loss of bowel control. Fecal incontinence often has a significant impact on someone’s quality of life and can keep them from going about their day without anxiety. Here are some of the most common fecal incontinence causes:
- Muscle Damage: Injuries to the rectal muscles, especially during childbirth or a traumatic accident, can lead to fecal incontinence.
- Nerve Damage: Diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and spinal cord injuries can damage the nerves and interfere with the body’s ability to sense stool in the rectum and control bowel movements.
- Diarrhea: Loose stools can be harder to control than solid ones, leading to fecal incontinence. Diarrhea can be caused by a wide range of conditions, including irritable bowel syndrome and infections.
- Severe Constipation: Severe constipation causes hardened stool to accumulate in the rectum and become too large to pass. Softer stool can then leak around the blockage and out of the rectum.
- Aging: As we age, muscles in the rectum may weaken, leading to a greater risk of fecal incontinence. This is a common issue in elderly individuals.
- Medical Conditions: Certain medical conditions can cause fecal incontinence. These include rectal prolapse, chronic constipation, inflammation, and radiation treatments.
Don’t Ignore the Symptoms
The symptoms of fecal incontinence can vary from person to person, depending on the severity and underlying cause of the condition. Crucially, these symptoms often greatly affect a person’s life, causing emotional distress and decreased quality of life. If you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms, reach out to our GI specialists:
- Unexpected leakage of stool from the rectum, especially when passing gas or coughing
- Urgent need to have a bowel movement
- Frequent diarrhea or constipation
- Gas and bloating
- A noticeable change in bowel habits
- Passing of mucus from the rectum
How Is Fecal Incontinence Diagnosed?
At Rocky Mountain Gastroenterology, we treat a variety of conditions and have the knowledge to make accurate diagnoses. A fecal incontinence diagnosis involves several tests and exams to better understand the causes and severity of the condition. After a detailed discussion of symptoms and medical history, we order one of these diagnostic tests:
- MRI: This imaging test gives doctors a detailed view of the anorectal area and allows them to identify structural issues causing incontinence.
- Ultrasound: Anal ultrasounds are another way to evaluate the shape and structure of the muscles and surrounding tissue. This imaging test allows us to pinpoint problems.
- Anal Manometry: An anal manometry test looks at the strength and tightness of the muscles affecting proper bowel movements.
- Proctography: This test provides an x-ray view of the rectum during defecation. The resulting video shows how the rectum releases stool.
- Anal Electromyography (EMG): An EMG might be ordered if nerve damage is the suspected cause of fecal incontinence. This test examines the sphincter and coordination between the rectum and surrounding muscles.
Get the Treatment You Need
You deserve to live happily and comfortably, and oftentimes, fecal incontinence makes that an impossible goal. Thankfully, there are ways to manage fecal incontinence symptoms and relieve your stress. Treatment will vary based on the cause and severity of your condition, as well as your overall health. We may discuss adding the following to your treatment plan:
- Nutrition Counseling: Certain foods can exacerbate fecal incontinence, like caffeine, dairy products, and certain spices. Our nutritional counseling team may suggest ways to track food intake and recommend healthy dietary changes to make stool more solid.
- Medication: Depending on the cause of fecal incontinence, medications may be prescribed. These could include anti-diarrheal drugs, laxatives for constipation, or special fiber supplements to help bulk up stool.
- Bowel Training: This process involves choosing consistent times to attempt a bowel movement each day. Other types of bowel training include exercises for strengthening the muscles around the anus.
- Surgery: When other treatments are ineffective, surgery may be necessary. These procedures are usually recommended when a patient has a structural problem near the rectum.
Trust Rocky Mountain Gastroenterology
Finding fecal incontinence treatment isn’t more trouble than it’s worth. The team at Rocky Mountain Gastroenterology is proud to have helped so many Denver residents manage their condition and live life to the fullest. If you’re concerned about worsening fecal incontinence, our team is here for you. Make an appointment with our caring providers to learn more about your options.Go back