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Bowel Incontinence: Causes, Symptoms, & Treatment

bowel incontinence symptoms san pablo commercial

Incontinence is not limited to the urinary tract. Some individuals may have a hard time controlling their bowel movements, also known as fecal incontinence. Understanding the causes, symptoms, and treatment options available can help better manage fecal incontinence.

Types of Bowel Incontinence and Symptoms

There are two types of fecal incontinence: urge and passive. Urge fecal incontinence is the inability to control the urge until reaching a bathroom. Passive fecal incontinence is the inability to feel when feces is coming out. 

What is urge fecal incontinence?

Urge fecal incontinence involves a strong urge to defecate. This inability to control the urge to poop may result in an accidental leak if one does not reach a bathroom in time.

What is passive fecal incontinence?

Passive bowel incontinence is the inability to feel or control the urge to defecate. This occurs due to neurological damage or other illnesses such as multiple sclerosis. Someone living with passive fecal incontinence may need to rely on diapers or other incontinence products to prevent accidental leaks.

Fecal Incontinence Symptoms

Symptoms of fecal incontinence include:

  • Stomach discomfort
  • Bowel contractions
  • Strong urge to use the bathroom
  • Passing stool without noticing (passive fecal incontinence)

What Causes Bowel Incontinence?

Bowel incontinence can be caused by a variety of medical conditions. In mild cases, fecal incontinence is a symptom of constipation or diarrhea. If bowel incontinence occurs more frequently, it may be due to muscle or nerve damage associated with childbirth, hemorrhoids, spinal cord injury, or stroke. 

Bowel incontinence can be associated with the following:

  • Muscle harm
  • Nerve damage
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Hemorrhoids 
  • Surgery
  • Rectal prolapse
  • Rectocele

Risk Factors of Bowel Incontinence

Developing fecal incontinence can be impacted by several risk factors:

  • Age (more prevalent in individuals over the age 65)
  • Gender (due to childbirth or menopause in women)
  • Muscle injury (in rectum or anus)
  • Nerve damage (associated with diabetes, multiple sclerosis, or spinal cord injury)
  • Dementia (late-stage Alzheimer’s)

How to Treat Fecal Incontinence?

Fecal incontinence can be treated with lifestyle changes as well as medications. Incontinence products including adult diapers and absorbent bed pads may help prevent accidents. Lifestyle changes that can help manage incontinence include: exercise, dietary modifications, and pelvic floor exercises.

Best Incontinence Products for Bowel Incontinence

Using high quality incontinence supplies for bowel incontinence is important for preventing skin irritation and bed sores. It is recommended to find incontinence products with maximum absorbency to ensure that moisture is drawn away from the skin. 

In addition, it is advised to use moisturizers or barrier creams to restore and hydrate the skin. If a person living with bowel incontinence is experiencing symptoms of incontinence rash, it may be helpful to let the skin breathe without diapers. Using disposable incontinence bed pads are a great alternative to catch nighttime leaks.


San Pablo Commercial is a family-owned, small business with a mission to deliver affordable high quality medical supplies to their customers. We offer a variety of incontinence products including SPC disposable underpads, reusable incontinence underwear, sanitary pads, and more. We care deeply about our customers and want to make ordering incontinence supplies easier so that they can spend less time cleaning up spills and messes.

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