Bowel leakage or fecal incontinence is the accidental passing of fecal material (bowel movement). This can happen to anyone if they have bad diarrhea, but it is considered abnormal in anyone over the age of four who has it repeatedly.There are different degrees of fecal incontinence, from “skid-marks” in your underwear to accidental passage of solid stool. Underwear staining is a milder form of incontinence, which typically has different causes than losing fecal matter and can usually be resolved by medical treatments.
Flatus (gas) is not bowel leakage. Most people pass rectal gas every day, up to 20 times per day. While this can be very embarrassing it is not bowel leakage or fecal incontinence. Your doctor can sometimes help you reduce the odor or the amount of gas you pass.
Your doctor can often tell if your bowel leakage is related to constipation during your consultation and exam. If the examination suggests that there is a different cause, two tests can help your doctor choose the best treatment:
Office hours: 9 am to 5 pm
Monday through Friday