The inability to control your bowel movement until you reach the bathroom can be embarrassing, and you may feel inclined to try and hide the problem. Also known as bowel incontinence, leaking stool (feces) from your rectum can happen when passing gas. In addition, it can occur when you have no idea you need to use the bathroom.
Some common causes of fecal incontinence include rectal prolapse (rectum drops down to the anus), rectocele (rectum protrudes through the vagina), hemorrhoids, surgery, nerve or muscle damage, and constipation. Additionally, various factors may increase your risk of developing bowel incontinence like being an adult of over 65 years, complications during childbirth, late-stage Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, and physical inability that leads to rectal nerve damage.
Depending on the cause, your physician may advise you on various treatments, including taking supplements to improve or reduce fecal incontinence to enhance your quality of life.
Best Supplements for Fecal Incontinence
The following supplements for bowel incontinence are considered safe to use and effective for reducing fecal incontinence symptoms:
This Japanese blend of 10 natural herbal ingredients works by halting nerve signals to the bladder. As a result, your urge to pass stool decreases, aiding in urine and fecal incontinence. According to the National Library of Medicine, Gasha-jinki-gan is safe and effective for women with overactive bladders.
2. Saw Palmetto
A study from the National Library of Medicine concluded that the consumption of Saw Palmetto, a herbal supplement made from the berries of a palm native tree, for 12 weeks relieved overactive bladder symptoms such as urinary incontinence, frequent urination, and urinary urgency.
3. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is an essential micronutrient for optimal muscle function. A deficiency in vitamin D puts you at a high risk of experiencing pelvic muscle floor disorders like fecal incontinence. You can take a test to determine your vitamin D levels through a blood test in a hospital. The normal range is between 20 and 40 ng/mL. Therefore, if the test results are outside this range, you should supplement your diet with foods or supplements rich in vitamin D.
A study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information among patients suffering from fecal incontinence showed that the application of zinc-aluminum-based ointment decreased fecal incontinence symptoms.
Magnesium helps to increase water in the intestines, helping in bowel movement. Often, it is used to help people suffering from constipation. In addition, magnesium plays a significant function in energy production, nerve function, and supporting muscles.
Fiber Supplements for Fecal Incontinence
If you are suffering from fecal incontinence, consider fiber therapy. Fiber therapy includes a gradual fiber intake until you achieve the recommended daily intake with respect to your age. For example, a woman aged above 50 years should eat 21 grams of fiber per day while a man above 50 should consume 30 grams per day.
Your body experiences slower metabolism, less muscle mass(sarcopenia), and reduced physical activity as you age. For this reason, consuming a diet that can help your digestive system function normally may ensure that you live comfortably even at old age.
Fiber helps alleviate bowel incontinence by absorbing water and bulking up fecal matter. In addition, it relieves constipation, which is a major cause of leaking liquid out around a blockage. You can increase your fiber intake by:
- Eating fresh and raw vegetables and fruits
- Consuming whole grains and cereals like beans
- Using fiber supplements
While fiber may improve your fecal incontinence symptoms, it doesn’t completely clear the issue. Visit your physician to receive extra treatments or advice on bowel management to lead a healthy and normal life.
How Can You Stop Bowel Incontinence Naturally?
Apart from using incontinence supplements like pumpkin seeds, soy milk, barley water, and diluted squash, dietary modifications and lifestyle changes can help alleviate the symptoms or prevent fecal incontinence.
Difficulty in controlling your bowel movement is manageable by being keen on the foods you consume. In addition to closely monitoring your diet, consult with your doctor to ensure that you’re receiving the right amount of nutrients to function optimally.
Consider the following to reduce your fecal incontinence symptoms:
- Keep a food diary to track the foods that worsen the situation
- Eat small portions of food but frequently throughout the day
- Drink enough fluids
- Include supplements for incontinence like fiber
If you experience loose stool(diarrhea) during bowel incontinence, limiting or avoiding certain foods can help. They include:
- Gas-producing foods like legumes
- Dairy products
- Nicotine from chewing or smoking tobacco
- Foods high in fat like deep-fried foods
- Drinks and foods rich in sugar
Making some lifestyle changes can help you manage an existing fecal incontinence issue or prevent it. The lifestyle changes are:
- Including pelvic strengthening exercises like squats, walking, and kegal
- Avoiding bladder irritants like alcohol and caffeine
- Use of catheters as advised
- Shedding off some weight if you are obese or overweight
- Trying pads and collectors to protect your clothes from leakage
What Are The Treatment Options for Fecal Incontinence?
Your treatment option depends on the cause of fecal incontinence. The options vary, and they include;
1. Sacral Nerve Stimulation
Sacral nerve stimulation is a medical electrical stimulation approved by the FDA to treat urinary retention and overactive bladder. The therapy is used as a last resort for those who have tried and failed medical management and treatment. This procedure includes using a device that sends mild electrical pulses from a handheld device that adjusts the stimulation level to the sacral nerves, reducing bladder control problems and symptoms.
The two common devices used for sacral nerve stimulation are Interstim and Axonics. Interstim has a battery that can last up to 15 years, but you cannot have an MRI done below the head. Axonics is rechargeable after every two weeks using a special belt, smaller in size than Interstim, and is MRI-compatible.
2. Hemorrhoid Banding
Hemorrhoids are pockets of swollen veins in the anal canal and can cause fecal incontinence due to straining during bowel movements. Hemorrhoid banding or rubber band ligation is a minimally invasive procedure that cuts the hemorrhoids’ blood supply, providing relief during bowel movements.
After a diagnosis and medical test, your doctor may prescribe you medicine depending on the cause of your bowel incontinence. They may include:
- Bulk laxatives like Psyllium( Metamucil) for chronic constipation causing incontinence
- Anti-diarrhea drugs like Lomotil(atropine sulfate) or Diphenoxylate
4. Physical Therapy for Bowel Incontinence
If your bowel incontinence is due to muscle damage, your doctor may recommend the following physical therapy to improve anal sphincter control and increase bowel movement awareness.
- Kegel exercises to contract your inner muscles
- Biofeedback through specially trained physical therapists to teach you how to increase your anal strength with the help of a rectal balloon or anal manometry
- Bowel training by making a conscious choice of when to visit the bathroom
Regain a Sense of Normalcy
At Incontinence Institute, we provide you with an individualized treatment plan depending on the cause of your incontinence. In addition, our team of healthcare providers will treat you with utmost respect and care as they are sensitive to your situation. Contact us today for help with fecal incontinence. Our medical concierge will get back to you as soon as possible.