Incontinence is generally associated with loss of bladder control, but incontinence can also mean leakage of stools. While bowel incontinence is more common in the elderly, adults and children can also be affected.

What is bowel incontinence?

Bowel incontinence is the inability to control bowel movements, causing incontinence or leakage of faeces or gas. Many of the people suffering from bowel incontinence also sufer from urine leakage. When this occues it is known as doulble incontinence. Precise statisitics for bowel incontinence and double incontinance are difficult to determain due to the taboos surrounding incontinence and bowel incontinence in particular.

What causes bowel incontinence?

Bowel incontinence occurs when the sphincter muscle is no longer able to hold faeces. The most common cause of bowel incontinence is damage or weakening of the anal sphincter muscle. However, damage to the nerves that control the anal sphincter muscle and the pelvic floor may also lead to the lack of urge to go to the bathroom even when necessary. This damage can be caused by surgery, childbirth or congenital disease.

Bowel incontinence can also be caused by constipation, haemorrhoids or rectal prolapse. People over 65, who have certain diseases or who suffer from dementia have an increased risk of developing bowel incontinence.

Bowel incontinence in children

Even though bowel incontinence is more common in elderly people, it can also affect children. Children and (young) adults with physical and / or mental disabilities can suffer from bowel incontinence due to a poorly functioning sphincter muscle. Children with a non-congenital brain disease such as Parkinson’s disease or who have suffered brain damage, may struggle with bowel incontinence or double incontinence as well.

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IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and Morbus Crohn

Bowel incontinence can also occur in people who suffer from bowel disease including IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and Morbus Crohn, due to an inflammation in the bowels.

Obstipation and overflow-diarrhoea

Obstipation is a severe form of constipation in which a person has difficulties emptying the bowel properly. In the long term, obstipation leads to hard faeces and bowel incontinence with only liquid faeces able to pass through. As soft stool is more difficult to control, loss of bowel control can occur. This kind of bowel incontinence is also known as overflow diarrhoea or paradox diarrhoea.

Solutions for bowel incontinence

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Depending on the cause of bowel incontinence there are several solutions available. A consultation with a physician or specialist can lead to recommendations of lifestyle changes, different medications, or surgery. Though in some cases it isn’t possible to treat bowel incontinence, which means managing it with the right products is the priority.

Incontinence products for bowel incontinence

In addition to products for urine incontinence, there are products specifically designed for bowel or double incontinence. Abri-San Premium from Abena is an anatomically shaped pad specifically designed for bowel incontinence and double incontinence. Standing leakage barriers with built-in pockets provide extra protection against any leakage, while padding works to prevent any unpleasant smells.