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Prevea Health

What is fecal incontinence?


Fecal incontinence is the accidental passing of solid stool, liquid stool or mucus from the rectum. It can be upsetting, embarrassing and difficult to discuss. But know that fecal incontinence is often caused by a medical problem and treatment is available.

What causes incontinence?
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Muscle damage or weakness
  • Nerve damage
  • Loss of stretch in the rectum
  • Childbirth by vaginal delivery
  • Hemorrhoids and rectal prolapse
  • Rectocele
  • Inactivity

How is fecal incontinence diagnosed?

Health care providers diagnose fecal incontinence based on a person’s medical history, physical exam and medical test results such as anorectal manometry.

Anorectal manometry measures the pressures of the anal sphincter muscles. A small catheter with a small balloon at the end is placed into the anus. Once the balloon is inflated measurements are taken while the patient squeezes and relaxes the sphincter muscles. After the test is complete, a treatment plan can be determined.

Treatment may include changes in diet, medicines, bowel training or surgery.

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