The Top 3 Reasons To Use A Bowel Diary When You Have Fecal Incontinence

Top 3 Reasons To Use A Bowel Diary When You Have Fecal Incontinence

It sounds weird, doesn’t it?  Keeping a journal for your bowel or bladder?  Maybe, but a Bowel Diary is actually a very useful tool to use if you suffer from Fecal Incontinence or Accidental Bowel Leakage.  

Here Are 3 Reasons To Use A Bowel Diary For Fecal Incontinence

  1. A Bowel Diary Gives You A Good Snapshot Of What’s Happening With Your Body. Knowing how often you leak, when, and how much can give help you create voiding habits that work with your body, and better assess the types of products that you need to address your leakage.  Always have a problem at 10 in the morning?  Perhaps you need to plan to always use the restroom at that time.  Only experience mild leakage? A light absorbent pad may work just fine for your needs.  Keeping a diary will help you make these decisions.

  2. It Helps You To Identify Triggers That May Be Causing You To Have Fecal Incontinence. By keeping a record of your ABL, you can start to uncover trends that may be contributing to the issue.  For instance, that cup of coffee first thing in the morning may be irritating your bowels more than you thought before, hinting that it’s time to rethink your java habit.
  3. It Provides You With A Roadmap For A Discussion With Your Doctor. Recording your leaks and daily habits gives you a great reference for when you eventually have a discussion about ABL with your doctor. This can be an embarrassing conversation for many, so having a document that outlines everything you’ve been experiencing can really help the discussion along, and provide your doctor with information that can help him or her prepare a better treatment plan for you.

Download the NAFC Bowel Diary here!

4 Common Myths Of Accidental Bowel Leakage

4 Common Myths Of Accidental Bowel Leakage

Accidental Bowel Leakage (ABL) is something no one likes to talk about. Even more so than urinary incontinence, fecal incontinence carries a stigma that is hard to shake. And yet, tens of millions Americans struggle with it on a regular basis.

Today, we’re dispelling 4 common myths associated with accidental bowel leakage:

MYTH:  ABL only happens when you have watery or loose stools.

FACT:  While things like diarrhea can create a strong sense of urgency and may indeed lead to leakage, other factors may also be at play.  Being constipated can be a cause of ABL too - when large hard stools get stuck in the rectum, watery stools can leak out around them.  Regular bouts of constipation can also stretch and weaken the rectum, making it harder for you to hold stools long enough to make it to the restroom. To that end, any damage to the muscles or nerves around the anus can create an ABL issue.  Things like childbirth, diabetes, stroke, hemorrhoid surgery, multiple sclerosis, or spinal cord injury all have the potential to cause ABL.

MYTH:  ABL only happens to older people

FACT:  While age does play a factor with ABL, leaky stools can happen to anyone who has had muscle or nerve damage to the anus, and can occur in people as young as 40.  ABL is more common in our older population though, due to decreased muscle and tissue elasticity, which makes it harder to hold a stool.

MYTH: Diet doesn’t affect ABL

FACT:  Diet can play a huge role in how and if you experience ABL. Everyone’s triggers are different - spicy food, fried and fatty foods, and food and drink with caffeine can cause problems for many. Additionally, eating larger meals can sometimes have a negative effect.  Try using a bowel diary to keep track of your food intake and your bowel problems. This may help you to see a trend in your eating habits that are leading to ABL.

MYTH:  There is nothing I can do to treat ABL

FACT:  ABL can and should be treated.  Watching what you eat, getting proper exercise (including pelvic floor exercises!), making certain behavior modifications, taking medication to address the issue are just a few of the things that can be done to combat ABL.  Surgery to correct the problem may also be an option for you.  The most important thing to remember is that you have options, and you owe it to yourself to seek them out by talking with your doctor.

Learn more about Accidental Bowel Leakage and available treatment options in our Conditions section.

The Best Products For Treating Accidental Bowel Leakage

The Best Products For Treating Accidental Bowel Leakage

If you suffer from fecal incontinence, you know that you will do anything to prevent leaks from happening.  Fortunately, there are many products on the market that can do just that.  We’ve rounded up some of the most popular products for accidental bowel leakage to share with you here.   

The Best Products For Accidental Bowel Leakage

Supplements.

Fiber supplements may be a good first step to try if you are experiencing loose stools, as they bulk up the consistency of your stool and make it less liquid.  Good sources of fiber are found in lots of foods such as split peas, many types of beans, and berries. Fiber supplements can also help, and can be found in many health food stores.  Look for products that contain psyllium or methylcellulose.

Anti-diarrhea Medication.

Products like Immodium or Pepto-Bismol can really help people who deal with the occasional loose stools.  However, it’s important to not use products like these for more than a couple of days

Anti-Constipation Medication.

While most cases of constipation can be fixed by incorporating a healthier diet and maintaining proper fluid intake (8 cups of water a day is the norm), sometimes you may need a little help to get things moving.  Most of the medications available, such as Amitiza® and Miralax® work by drawing extra water to the stool to make it softer and easier to pass. As with anti-diarrhea medication, these products usually should not be used for extended periods of time.

ABL Specific Absorbent Products.

Absorbents for urinary incontinence get a lot of attention, but did you know that there are specific products just for fecal incontinence? Butterfly body liners are designed for light leakage and are unique in that they fit discreetly in between the buttocks.  Other super absorbent products from common names like Tena, Poise and Reassure also work well for bowel leakage.

Skin protection.

If you suffer from any type of incontinence, it is important to take care of your skin.  Barrier creams and ointments to protect and treat the skin from rashes or infection can be found online and in local drugstores.

Collection Symptoms.

For those with heavier leakage, there are multiple options ranging from bags adhered directly to the skin to catheters and tubes attached to a collection bag.

Vaginal Inserts.

Eclipse™, which is fitted first by a physician, is an inflatable balloon device that is inserted into the vagina. When inflated, the balloon puts pressure through the vaginal wall onto the rectal area, thereby reducing the number of FI episodes.

Rectal Inserts.

The Renew® Insert is a new product designed to comfortably fit with your body to form a seal with the rectum, which blocks the anal passage and prevents leaks from occurring.  

Have you tried any other products not listed above? Tell us about them in the comments!