As people grow old they face a plethora of health issues that are known as geriatric (relating to old age) disorders. Urinary and fecal incontinence are disorders where one loses control over bladder and bowel movements. The muscles, which control the bladder and bowel are involuntary and can be controlled by will only to an extent. However, aging is not responsible for loss of control over bladder and bowel movements. The disorder could be due to some neurological disease, injury, weakened muscles or even dehydration or constipation. It often leads to utter helplessness and embarrassment. However, instead of feeling bad about it one should learn how to cope with it, as well as take precautionary measures such as:
- Avoid taking laxatives; incorporate natural remedies like fruits and hydration into your diet.
- Constipation should never be neglected – find a speedy remedy
- Any damage to the sphincter muscle or nerve during surgery or childbirth can lead to incontinence
- Diseases like Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, chronic diabetes or dementia can cause this problem
- Rectal cancer can often lead to damage to the inner wall (especially the lining)
- Severe straining due to constipation causes the rectum drop out, causing damage
Ways by which the cause of urinary incontinence and fecal incontinence can be determined:
- Anal Manometry test – Gauges the strength of the anal glands. A catheter is introduced through the anus into the rectum; a balloon is inflated to test the sensation and reflex. This test is proven and dependable, providing accurate results.
- Anorectal Ultrasonography test – An instrument that emits sound waves is inserted into the rectum to obtain an image of the rectum.
- X-rays – can be used to view the position and shape of the rectum during defecation
- Anal Electromyography – tests the nerve functions in the anal region
Doctors use several means to help patients cope with the disorder. Here are several ways to treat and manage incontinence:
- Biofeedback is a treatment technique where people are trained to help themselves. Coordination between the rectum and anus is streamlined and strengthened with the help of a probe that is inserted for measuring the contraction and relaxation of the sphincter muscle
- It is important to have a regular schedule for toilet visits
- Though there are anti-diarrheal drugs that are prescribed to prevent watery stools, this may not serve as a permanent cure
- A A regular diet with plenty of fiber, fresh fruits and vegetables will help with controlling this irritating condition
- Kegel exercises, prescribed for women during childbirth, are effective in gaining control over the bowels. The anal muscles are contracted and relaxed several times at regular intervals. One can even try stemming the flow for a few seconds while urinating as this helps strengthen the muscles
- Surgery is option, where the sphincter muscle is repaired or replaced; it should be resorted to only as a last resort. Artificial anal sphincter surgery is used to treat this problem, during which an inflatable cuff is implanted in the anal canal (it needs to be deflated during defecation) to restore continence.