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Daily bowel care program

Incontinence - care; Dysfunctional bowel - care; Neurogenic bowel - care

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Description

Health conditions that cause nerve damage can cause problems with how your bowels function. A daily bowel care program can help manage this problem and avoid embarrassment.

What to Expect at Home

Nerves that help your bowels work smoothly can be damaged after a brain or spinal cord injury. People with multiple sclerosis also have problems with their bowels. Those with poorly controlled diabetes can also be affected. Symptoms may include:

A daily bowel care program can help you avoid embarrassment. Work with your health care provider.

Basic Bowel Program

Keeping active helps prevent constipation. Try to walk, if you can. If you are in a wheelchair, ask your provider about exercises.

Eat plenty of food that is high in fiber. Read labels on packages and bottles to see how much fiber the food contains.

Once you find a bowel routine that works, stick with it.

When you Have Bowel Movement Problems

Use K-Y jelly, petroleum jelly, or mineral oil to help lubricate your rectal opening.

You may need to insert your finger into the rectum. Your provider can show you how to gently stimulate the area to help with bowel movements. You may also need to remove some of the stool.

You can use an enema, stool softener, or laxative until the stool is smaller and it is easier for you to have a bowel movement.

Losing Control of Your Bowels (Incontinence)

Following a regular bowel program may help prevent accidents. Learn to become aware of signs that you need to have a bowel movement, such as:

If you lose control of your bowels, ask yourself these questions:

Other tips include:

Know which foods stimulate your bowel or cause diarrhea. Common examples are milk, fruit juice, raw fruits, and beans or legumes.

Make sure you are not constipated. Some people with very bad constipation leak stools or leak fluid around the stool.

When to Call the Doctor

Call your provider if you notice:

Related Information

Multiple sclerosis
Recovering after stroke
Multiple sclerosis - discharge
Stroke - discharge
How to read food labels
Constipation - self-care
When you have diarrhea
When you have nausea and vomiting
Constipation - what to ask your doctor
Diarrhea - what to ask your health care provider - adult
Diarrhea - what to ask your doctor - child

References

Camilleri M. Disorders of gastrointestinal motility. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 136.

Koyle MA, Lorenzo AJ. Management of defecation disorders. In: Wein AJ, Kavoussi LR, Partin AW, Peters CA, eds. Campbell-Walsh Urology. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 144.

Lembo AJ. Constipation. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 19.

Rao, SSC. Fecal incontinence. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 18.

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Review Date: 6/22/2018  

Reviewed By: Michael M. Phillips, MD, Clinical Professor of Medicine, The George Washington University School of Medicine, Washington, DC. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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