Sometimes a medical condition can make it impossible to live your life comfortably or meet your daily obligations because of debilitating pain, or because your body isn’t functioning as it should. If you have fecal incontinence, you may not be able to work, socialize, or even do something as simple as shop for groceries because of embarrassment.
At Paonessa Colon & Rectal Surgery, PC in Brielle and Manahawkin, New Jersey, Dr. Nina Paonessa understands the impact fecal incontinence can have on your life. Her experience and expertise can help you overcome your problem and get back to living your life to the fullest possible extent.
A symptom, not the problem
Although fecal incontinence appears to be the problem, it’s actually a symptom of something else. If you have fecal incontinence, you have an underlying condition that causes you to have a sudden urge to get to a toilet. You may not make it in time, or stool may leak from your rectum with no warning at all.
In most situations, fecal incontinence is temporary. However, if you have chronic symptoms, you should seek medical care from an experienced professional. Dr. Paonessa can diagnose the cause of your problem as well as help you find relief.
Common causes of fecal incontinence
There are several potential causes of fecal incontinence, including:
- Damage to your anal sphincter, which is often a result of giving birth
- Chronic constipation or diarrhea
- Nerve damage in your rectum due to childbirth, spinal cord injury, or stroke
- Loss of storage capacity in the rectum
- Previous rectal surgery
- Rectal prolapse, where the rectum lowers into the anus
- Rectocele, where the rectum protrudes into the vagina
There are several things that make it more likely you’ll experience fecal incontinence. For example, being a woman or having a physical disability both raise your risk. Additionally, your diet affects the consistency of your stool, so fecal incontinence can reveal a dietary problem.
Medical history matters
If you have a history of bowel problems, such as inflammatory bowel disease or irritable bowel syndrome, your fecal incontinence may be related to that condition.
Other common issues that could be related to your fecal incontinence include delivery of a large baby or an episiotomy during a vaginal delivery. Those events can cause damage to your anal sphincter.
During your consultation with Dr. Paonessa, be sure to discuss anything in your past that could be impacting your current situation.
The condition determines treatment for fecal incontinence
Once Dr. Paonessa understands your medical history and completes a physical exam, she may run various diagnostic tests. You may need lab tests, bowel function tests, or imaging of your colon and rectum. All of these tests help Dr. Paonessa better understand what is happening and allow her to diagnose your underlying condition.
Your treatment depends on your underlying condition. For example, if chronic diarrhea is the cause, antidiarrheal medications could be the most appropriate treatment. However, if you’re frequently constipated, you may need a laxative.
Dietary and lifestyle changes could be the most appropriate approach, or you may need some combination of treatments. In some cases, especially when muscle damage causes your fecal incontinence, physical therapy and various exercises are the best way to find relief.
If you ignore fecal incontinence or simply hope that it will go away, you’re depriving yourself of a higher quality of life and risking further health complications. Book your appointment online or by phone today and begin the process of learning why you’re experiencing this uncomfortable symptom.