Overindulging on alcohol, gammon, roast beef, lamb and pork, roast potatoes or creamy potato bake, cauliflower and broccolli with cheese sauce for mains and...then there is still dessert.
Just name it, and you can guarantee that you’ve eaten it over Christmas.
And whilst you’re sitting there, basking in your food coma, something takes you by surprise. PRRP! Was that you?
We often see this as a comedic event, but in reality, 1 in 10 people are affected by bowel incontinence at some point in their lives – this can be a one-off or an everyday occurrence.
So, What is Bowel Incontinence?
Bowel incontinence concerns the involuntary leakage of stool and/or gas.
Your bowel is responsible for absorbing nutrients and fluid from the food and drink that you consume, before the waste is removed from your body.
What Causes Bowel Incontinence?
The nerve endings in the rectum are stimulated by waste, resulting in the urge for bowel movement. This in turn stimulates your internal muscles to involuntarily relax and open.
Usually, we consciously keep this muscle tight and closed, until we are on the toilet, where we can relax it and allow defecation to occur. But, issues can start to arise if you have weak or damaged pelvic floor muscles.
Bowel incontinence is recognised as three separate types of incontinence:
Faecal bowel incontinence – The inability to control leakage of faeces and gas. Faecal incontinence is a symptom of bowel (anorectal) dysfunction, occurring as a result of a dysfunctional coordination of the internal and external sphincter muscles, and pelvic floor muscles. If you suffer from faecal incontinence you will uncontrollably pass gas, and leak liquid and/or solid faeces occasionally, or multiple times a day.
Flatus bowel incontinence – The inability to control the leakage of gas. Flatus incontinence (flatal incontinence) is a symptom of bowel (anorectal) dysfunction. It is defined by it being more noticeable when you pass wind, and being unable to restrain it. Flatulence is part of a normal, healthy digestive system and cannot be completely prevented. The gas you release is a mix of air swallowed as you eat, drink or smoke. Alongside gas produced by the colonic microbiota (live microbes) within your digestive system as they break down your food. If your internal sphincter has nerve damage, you may not be stimulated by the gas as it passes through. Therefore you can pass wind without realising it was coming. If you do feel the urge to pass wind, you contract your external sphincter to keep it in until an appropriate time. If this sphincter is damaged or weak, you may have no control over stopping the gas.
Double incontinence – The involuntary leakage of urine, faeces and gas. Double incontinence (combined incontinence) is when you suffer from, one or more forms of, both bowel and bladder incontinence. Often you will suffer from urinary incontinence first, and if you do not seek treatment soon enough, faecal incontinence will follow. Both forms of incontinence occur as a result of weak and/or damaged pelvic floor muscles, related ligaments and nerves. This often also results in a pelvic organ prolapse occurring alongside the double incontinence. Did you know that men can also experience a prolapse.
The main causes of incontinence include:
Pregnancy and Childbirth – Due to the damage that occurs to the pelvic floor during pregnancy and labour, many women suffer with incontinence as a result. In fact, faecal incontinence affects 25% of women!
Age – As we grow older, our pelvic floor muscles become naturally weaker. This means that we are more susceptible to developing a pelvic floor disorder.
Obesity – Excess weight can cause a huge strain on your pelvic floor muscles. Not only can this lead to incontinence, but it can make any pre-existing incontinence even worse!
High Impact Exercise – Exercises such as running, jumping and weight lifting can really take a toll on your pelvic floor rather look at low impact exercises like walking, road cycling, rowing, yoga, pilates, biokinetics and using gym equipment such as the elliptical and stationary bike.
Pelvic Organ Prolapse – 60% of women with a prolapse also suffer from urinary incontinence.
How to Prevent Bowel Incontinence?
Top tips on preventing bowel incontinence includes:
Kegel! – Strong pelvic floor muscles are vital in your ability to control your bladder and bowel. Pelvic floor exercises can reduce the frequency of incontinence episodes by half within 6 weeks! If you find it difficult to contract the correct muscles, you may not see an improvement in your incontinence. In this case, you can use an electronic pelvic toner to gain improvements. The Kegel8 Ultra 20 Electronic Pelvic Toner for women and Kegel8 V for Men offer specialised, medically approved programmes that can help to resolve your specific form of incontinence. Go ahead get your Ultra 20 here OR your V For Men here!
Stop straining – Constipation can put added strain on your pelvic floor. To avoid this, ensure a daily intake of fibre (both soluble and insoluble) with enough water (about 1.5 to 2 litres a day) and use a toilet stool to optimise your toilet sitting position.
Maintaining a healthy weight – Reducing your weight by just 5% can cut your incontinence episodes in half!
Stop smoking – The chronic cough that you develop alongside smoking can cause a weak pelvic floor.
Incontinence Treatment – Surgery
If conservative treatments or medicines are not effective enough for you, you may choose to opt for surgical treatment.
In this case, a few of your options include:
Uterine fibroids removal (women) – Popular procedures for this removal include Myomectomy (removal of fibroids from uterus), Hysterectomy (removal of the womb) and Non-surgical uterine fibroid embolization (deprive fibroid of blood supply).
Bladder enlargement – The size of your bladder is increased by adding a piece of intestinal tissue.
Sacral nerve stimulation – A device can be fitted at the bottom of your back that stimulates your muscles. This can help to reduce incontinence episodes and constipation. Sacral nerve stimulation can also be performed using an electronic pelvic toner. Click here to learn more.
So, whether you suffer from a bit of gas this Christmas or some form of incontinence or maybe you just want to preserve your bowel health, start Kegeling today!
Original article: Kegel8 Website