Fecal incontinence refers to the inability to hold feces (stool) in the rectum. This is typically due to failure of voluntary control over the anal sphincters, permitting untimely passage of feces and gas. Fecal incontinence is also known as rectal incontinence or bowel incontinence. Fecal incontinence is not a disease itself but is a symptom that can occur as a result of different kinds of diseases or injuries. Incontinence of stool can result from damage to the nerves or muscles of the rectum and anus, or conditions affecting the intestines. Overflow incontinence, also known as paradoxical diarrhea, occurs in people with chronic constipation when stool fills the rectum, hardens, and becomes impacted. Liquid stool then may leak around the fecal mass, producing symptoms similar to incontinence.
Other causes of fecal incontinence
- Anal or Rectal Surgery
- Laxative Abuse
- Paradoxical Diarrhea
- Parasitic Infections
- Radiation Therapy
- Rectal Cancer
- Rectal Prolapse
- Trauma From Childbirth
Pictures, Images, Illustrations & Quizzes
Alzheimer's Disease Symptoms & Early Diagnosis
Learn the early warning signs and symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. Memory loss and confusion can be signs of normal aging, but...
Alzheimers Disease Quiz: Stages, Symptoms & Signs
Take the Alzheimer's Quiz to discover some of the mysteries behind this cognitive disorder. Learn causes, symptoms, treatments,...
Crohn's Disease Causes, Symptoms, Diet
What is Crohn's disease? Get more information on this digestive disorder and how Crohn's can affect your diet. Learn more about...
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) Causes, Symptoms, Treatment
What is inflammatory bowel disease? IBD can include Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. Learn more about testing, treatments,...
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Symptoms and Treatment
Learn about multiple sclerosis (MS) causes, symptoms, and treatment for this autoimmune disease that attacks the nerves of the...
Picture of Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms
Symptoms of multiple sclerosis may be single or multiple and may range from mild to severe in intensity and short to long in...
Stroke Causes, Symptoms, and Recovery
What is a stroke? Learn about stroke symptoms like sudden numbness or weakness, confusion, vision problems, or problems with...
Ulcerative Colitis Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment
Ulcerative Colitis is a form of inflammatory bowel disease and is slightly different than Crohn's disease. Your diet can impact...
Worst Foods for Digestion
Discover which foods to avoid in order to prevent diarrhea and digestive problems. Find out which foods can trigger diarrhea and...
Causes of Fecal Incontinence
Alzheimer's disease is a common cause of dementia. Symptoms and warning signs of Alzheimer's disease include memory loss, difficulty performing familiar tasks, disorientation to time and place, misplacing things, and more. The biggest risk factor for Alzheimer's disease is increased age. Treatment for Alzheimer's is often targeted toward decreasing the symptoms and progression of the disease.
Anal cancer, cancer located at the end of the large intestine, has symptoms that include anal or rectal bleeding, anal pain or pressure, anal discharge or itching, a change in bowel movements, and/or a lump in the anal region. Treatment for anal cancer may involve radiation, chemotherapy, or surgery and depends upon the stage of the cancer, its location, whether cancer is eradicated after the first treatment, and whether the patient has HIV.
Constipation (Relief, Home Remedies, Treatment Medications)
Constipation is defined medically as fewer than three stools per week and severe constipation as less than one stool per week. Constipation usually is caused by the slow movement of stool through the colon. There are many causes of constipation including medications, poor bowel habits, low fiber diets, laxative abuse, and hormonal disorders, and diseases primarily of other parts of the body that also affect the colon.
Crohn's disease is a chronic inflammatory disease, primarily involving the small and large intestine, but which can affect other parts of the digestive system as well. Abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and weight loss are common symptoms.
Dementia is defined as a significant loss of intellectual abilities such as memory capacity, severe enough to interfere with social or occupational functioning. There are several different types of dementia, including cortical, subcortical, progressive, primary, and secondary dementias. Other conditions and medication reactions can also cause dementia. Dementia is diagnosed based on a certain set of criteria. Treatment for dementia is generally focused on the symptoms of the disease.
Diabetes (Type 1 and Type 2)
Diabetes is a chronic condition characterized by high levels of sugar (glucose) in the blood. The two types of diabetes are referred to as type 1 (insulin dependent) and type 2 (non-insulin dependent). Symptoms of diabetes include increased urine output, thirst, hunger, and fatigue. Treatment of diabetes depends on the type.
Diarrhea (Causes, Medicine, Remedies, Treatment)
Diarrhea is a change is the frequency and looseness of bowel movements. Symptoms associated with diarrhea are cramping, abdominal pain, and the sensation of rectal urgency. Causes of diarrhea include viral, bacterial, or parasite infection, gastroenteritis, food poisoning, and drugs. Absorbents and anti-motility medications are used to treat diarrhea.
Hemorrhoids (piles) are swollen veins in the rectum and anus. Causes include pregnancy, obesity, diarrhea, low-fiber diet, and prolonged sitting on the toilet. Treatment varies depending upon the severity of the hemorrhoids. Some treatment options include over-the-counter creams and suppositories, stool softeners, warm sitz baths, and hemorrhoidectomies.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (Intestinal Problems of IBD)
The inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) are Crohn's disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC). The intestinal complications of Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis differ because of the characteristically dissimilar behaviors of the intestinal inflammation in these two diseases.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
Multiple sclerosis (MS) symptoms vary from person to person, and can last for days to months without periods of remission. Symptoms of MS include sexual problems and problems with the bowel, bladder, eyes, muscles, speech, swallowing, brain, and nervous system. The early symptoms and signs of multiple sclerosis usually start between age 20 and 40. MS in children, teens, and those over age 40 is rare. Treatment options for multiple sclerosis vary depending on the type and severity of symptoms. Medications may be prescribed to manage MS symptoms.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, Life Expectancy
Multiple sclerosis or MS is an autoimmune disorder in which brain and spinal cord nerve cells become demyelinated. This damage results in symptoms that may include numbness, weakness, vertigo, paralysis, and involuntary muscle contractions. Different forms of MS can follow variable courses from relatively benign to life-threatening. MS is treated with disease-modifying therapies. Some MS symptoms can be treated with medications.
Spinal Cord Injury: Treatments and Rehabilitation
When vertebrae are broken or dislocated, the result can cause traumatic injury to the spinal cord. A spinal cord injury can have significant physiological consequences. One indication of the severity of a spinal cord injury are respiratory complications. Spinal cord injuries are classified as either complete or incomplete. Spinal cord injury affects can include: affected breathing, pneumonia, lower blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, blood clots, spasms, autonomic dysreflexia, bed sores (pressure sores), chronic pain, bladder and bowel problems, and reproductive and sexual function issues. Rehabilitation and recovery of a spinal cord injury is dependant upon the type of injury.
The five types of spondylolisthesis include dysplastic, isthmic, degenerative, traumatic, and pathologic. The most common symptom of spondylolisthesis is lower back pain. Treatment depends on the type and severity of spondylolisthesis. Surgery is required in some cases of spondylolisthesis.
A stroke is an interruption of the blood supply to part of the brain caused by either a blood clot (ischemic) or bleeding (hemorrhagic). Symptoms of a stroke may include: weakness, numbness, double vision or vision loss, confusion, vertigo, difficulty speaking or understanding speech. A physical exam, imaging tests, neurological exam, and blood tests may be used to diagnose a stroke. Treatment may include administration of clot-busting drugs, supportive care, and in some instances, neurosurgery. The risk of stroke can be reduced by controlling high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and stopping smoking.
Ulcerative colitis is a chronic inflammation of the colon. Symptoms include abdominal pain, diarrhea, and rectal bleeding. Ulcerative colitis is closely related to Crohn's disease, and together they are referred to as inflammatory bowel disease. Treatment depends upon the type of ulcerative colitis diagnosed.
Digestive Disorders Resources
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Subscribe to MedicineNet's General Health Newsletter