Each month, we ask our expert panel to answer one of our reader's questions. To learn more about the NAFC Expert Panel, and how to submit your own question, see below.
Q: What should be the first line of defense in the treatment for Fecal Incontinence?
A: My advice would always be to first talk with your doctor. This may be an uncomfortable conversation to have, but it’s one worth having, since your doctor is best equipped to diagnose and treat the condition. However, if you’re just not ready to take that step yet, there are a few things you can do:
1. Keep a bowel diary. It may seem strange to track your bowel movements, but by tracking the time of your movements, what you were doing at the time, and what you eat during the day, you may be able to uncover some clues as to what is causing you to have frequent movements or accidents.
2. Change up your diet. Certain foods can be irritating to your bowel and by keeping a healthy diet you may be able to lessen some of your symptoms. Try eating foods rich in fiber, which can help create bulkier stools and make them easier to control. Drink plenty of water to avoid constipation (which, contrary to what you might think, can also cause ABL since loose stools can push their way past hardened ones causing leakage.)
3. Develop a routine. Take a look at your bowel diary and see if you notice a pattern to your bowel movements or accidents. Try developing a voiding schedule to circumvent these episodes.
4. Exercise. Getting in a good workout is always a good idea, but it can be especially helpful in keeping constipation under control. Exercising helps to move food through the large intestine more quickly, which can prevent it from becoming hard and dry (and harder to pass.) And keeping the pelvic floor in shape with regular exercise and kegel contractions can help control and reduce fecal incontinence.
If you don’t experience any improvement in your condition after making the above adjustments, it may be time to bite the bullet and speak with a doctor. Rest assured you won’t be the first one to share this type of problem with them and they will be able to point you in the direction of something that will work best for you.
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