As stated in a personal account of living with incontinence from the founder of the International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD), “Bowel or bladder incontinence is a 24 hour, seven day a week challenge. One never escapes it, for many it is even in our dreams.” Of the two, bladder incontinence is met with far more awareness, while bowel incontinence is a condition that is often kept out of sight due to shame and hopelessness.
Below, a colorectal surgeon in Tampa discusses bowel incontinence and, more importantly, the options for treating it. Living with bowel incontinence can feel like an impossible challenge. You may feel trapped in your home, unable to leave out of fear of an accident. But you don’t have to go it alone. Regardless of the underlying cause, know that help and treatment options are always available.
The Physical and Emotional Toll of Incontinence
You may feel alienated because of your symptoms, but bowel incontinence affects roughly 1 in 3 people who see a primary health care provider. This condition more often affects adults who are physically inactive, of advanced age, or have an underlying health problem. In addition to being unable to control their urgencies, sufferers may experience other complications:
- Gas and bloating
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Inflammatory bowel syndrome
- Muscle damage
- Nerve damage
- Poor health
- Urinary incontinence
As alarming as the above symptoms can be, they may pale in comparison to the enormous emotional stress that a person with bowel incontinence can live with. People with bowel incontinence spend their lives worried of being out of reach of a bathroom. Depression, anxiety, and social isolation can set in as a person struggles with this loss of freedom. “The uncertainty of living with the ever-present possibility of having an episode of incontinence can be disabling. Whether an episode of incontinence occurs once a day, or once a week, the uncertainty of when the next episode will happen, and vigilance that accompanies that uncertainty, occurs every waking minute,” continued the founder of IFFGD.
Finding a Cure
There are numerous potential causes of bowel incontinence — anal trauma or surgery, connective tissue disorders, and rectal prolapse, etc. Discovering and treating the underlying cause takes a skilled medical professional. Depending on the results of your diagnosis, your doctor can begin treatment by prescribing medications or recommending exercises and therapies that may help improve your sphincter control and urgency awareness. However, if the underlying cause is determined to be trauma to the anal canal, colorectal surgery in Tampa may be the only viable option.
As an experienced colorectal surgeon in Tampa, Whalen Clark, M.D., can explore any and all treatment options in the pursuit of curing your incontinence. If surgery is determined to be the best route, Dr. Clark will move forward with the aid of da Vinci® surgical system, an advanced robotics system designed to minimize pain and ensure speedy recovery times. Incontinence can be a daily challenge to live with, but that’s just the thing: you don’t have to live with it. If you are tired of living with incontinence and would like to explore possible cures, request an appointment with Dr. Clark, your caring robotics surgeon.
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