Some problems, like stroke, diabetes, or a blockage in the intestines, can cause constipation. These disorders may affect the muscles or nerves used for normal bowel movements. A doctor can test to see if the problem is medical. Medical problems can often be treated.
Common causes of fecal incontinence include diarrhea, constipation, and muscle or nerve damage. The muscle or nerve damage may be associated with aging or with giving birth. Whatever the cause, fecal incontinence can be embarrassing.
People often want to know what is considered “normal” or “ideal,” when it comes to bowel movements. Although it’s probably ideal to have a bowel movement every day, it’s generally considered acceptable to have them every 2-3 days, provided they aren’t hard, painful, or difficult to pass.
Changes in the digestive system. As we age, this process sometimes slows down, and this can cause food to move more slowly through the colon. When things slow down, more water gets absorbed from food waste, which can cause constipation.
Treatment and management of fecal incontinence and bowel leakage
If you aren’t pooping as easily or often as you’d like, addressing these aspects can help.
Symptoms of Bowel Incontinence
“Many elders subscribe to the myth that one should defecate at least once every day, but there is no such magic number or prescribed schedule that people should aim for.” English says that “normality” falls within a range of no more than three movements a day and no less than three movements each week.
Doctors may call hard stools constipation. While hard bowel movements happen to everyone from time to time, they can also be a symptom of an underlying medical condition. Examples of conditions that cause hard bowel movements include diverticular disease, intestinal obstructions, or hypothyroidism.
In general, bulk-forming laxatives, also referred to as fiber supplements, are the gentlest on your body and safest to use long term. Metamucil and Citrucel fall into this category.
There is no generally accepted number of times a person should poop. As a broad rule, pooping anywhere from three times a day to three times a week is normal. Most people have a regular bowel pattern: They’ll poop about the same number of times a day and at a similar time of day.
You should be concerned if your stools are deep red, maroon, black, or “tarry,” especially if they have a noticeable odor. This may mean that there is blood in the stool.
Prevention tips include:
Polyethylene glycol (Miralax) is preferred over lactulose for the treatment of constipation because it is more effective and has fewer adverse effects. Linaclotide (Linzess) and lubiprostone (Amitiza) are more effective than placebo for chronic constipation.
There are secondary causes of intestinal dysmotility. Examples of this include systemic Lupus erythematosus, amyloidosis, neurofibromatosis, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, scleroderma, thyroid disorders, and muscular dystrophies. Certain medications can also cause intestinal dysmotility.
As you get closer to the end of your life, you should still expect to have some bowel movements, even if you aren’t eating much. Constipation can be an uncomfortable side effect of many medications. The most common are those to treat pain, nausea, and depression, but other medications can also cause it.