Bowel incontinence is an inability to control bowel movements, resulting in involuntary soiling. It's also sometimes known as faecal incontinence.

The experience of bowel incontinence can vary from person to person. Some people feel a sudden need to go to the toilet but are unable to reach a toilet in time. This is known as urge bowel incontinence.

Other people experience no sensation before soiling themselves, known as passive incontinence or passive soiling, or there might be slight soiling when passing wind.

Some people experience incontinence on a daily basis, whereas for others it only happens from time to time.

It's thought one in 10 people will be affected by it at some point in their life. It can affect people of any age, although it's more common in elderly people. It's also more common in women than men.

Why bowel incontinence happens

Bowel incontinence isa symptom of an underlying problem or medical condition.

Many cases are caused by Traveller's diarrhoea , constipation , or weakening of the muscle that controls the opening of the anus.

It can also be caused by long-term conditions such as diabetes , multiple sclerosis and dementia .

  • It can be treated there's a wide range of successful treatments.
  • Bowel incontinence isn't a normal part of ageing.
  • It won't usually go away on its own most people need treatment for the condition.
  • If you don't want to see your GP, you can usually make an appointment at your local NHS continence service without a referral. These clinics are staffed by specialist nurses who can offer useful advice about incontinence.

    Treatment will often depend on the cause and how severe it is, but possible options include:

    • lifestyle and dietary changes to relieve constipation or diarrhoea
    • exercise programmes to strengthen the muscles that control thebowel
    • medication to control diarrhoea and constipation
    • surgery , of which there are a number of different options

    Incontinence products , such as anal plugs and disposable pads, can be used until your symptoms are better controlled.

    Even ifit isn't possible tocure yourbowel incontinence, symptomsshouldimprove significantly.


    Content supplied by the NHS Website

    Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 24 Nov 2016