Fecal incontinence is a common condition involving a loss of bowel control, resulting in a leaking of stool from the rectum, which often occurs while passing gas. This condition may develop as a result of constipation, diarrhea, or from damage to the muscles or nerves that control bowel movement release. Other factors such as aging and childbirth may also contribute to fecal incontinence and can significantly affect a person's quality of life.
This condition occurs most often in older adults, and is also more common in females because of the relation to childbirth, although both men and women of any age can be affected. Although it may be embarrassing to discuss, fecal incontinence is a common condition affecting millions of patients each year, and should receive proper medical attention so that patients can engage in their everyday activities without the worry of incontinence.
Treatment for fecal incontinence depends on the cause and severity of the condition, but aims to restore control over bowel movements. Many patients can benefit from dietary changes, which may include eating more high-fiber foods or avoiding caffeine, alcohol and spicy foods, as well as bowel training exercises to restore muscle strength in the area. Medication may be prescribed to relieve chronic diarrhea or constipation, while more severe conditions may require surgery to correct structural damage.
Surgery may include a sphincteroplasty or sphincter replacement, which repair a damaged anal sphincter, or a colostomy to collect any fecal matter. These procedures are usually reserved for patients who have not responded to life modifications. Your doctor will determine the most effective treatment approach for your individual condition.
Gallstones are small deposits of cholesterol or calcium salts that form in the gallbladder, the small sac below the liver. These deposits form when the liquid in the gallbladder, known as bile, hardens into a stone-like material. Bile is made of water, cholesterol, fats, salts and proteins, but when there is too much cholesterol the liquid can harden into stones. Most gallstones are made from cholesterol, but some are made from bilirubin, a waste product of the gallbladder.
Many people do not experience any symptoms from gallstones and may not even know they have the condition. But other people may experience indigestion, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and fever. Too much cholesterol is often a main cause of gallstones, but other factors can also contribute to this condition. Some of these factors include:
- Being female
- Family history
- High-fat diet
- Rapid weight loss
- Older age
Your doctor can diagnose gallstones through diagnostic imaging tests such as an ultrasound, CT scan or cholescintigraphy. Many cases are diagnosed when testing for other conditions. If not detected, gallstones can lead to blockage of the common bile duct, inflammation of the pancreas or cancer.
Treatment for gallstones depends on the severity of the condition and associated symptoms. If you do not experience any symptoms from gallstones, no treatment is necessary. For gallstones that cause frequent, painful symptoms, you may benefit from a cholecystectomy, a surgical procedure to remove the gallbladder, which is not an essential organ. This procedure can often be performed laparoscopically in order to reduce scarring and recovery time. If surgery is not an option, your doctor may recommend bile salt tablets, sound wave therapy or topical gallstone dissolution. However, nonsurgical treatments are not usually effective in preventing the condition from recurring.