1. Flatus Bowel Incontinence

    Medically reviewed by Amanda Savage 20/07/2023

    Flatus incontinence (flatal incontinence) is a symptom of bowel (anorectal) dysfunction. It is defined by it being more noticeable when you pass wind, and being unable to restrain it, leaving you embarrassed. Flatulence is part of a normal, healthy digestive system and cannot be completely prevented, usually being odourless and inoffensive. The gas you release is a mix of air swallowed as you eat, drink or smoke. Alongside gas produced by the colonic microbiota (live microbes) within your digestive system as they break down your food.

    If your internal sphincter has nerve damage, you may not be stimulated by the gas as it passes through. Therefore you can pass wind without realising it was coming. If you do feel the urge to pass wind, you contract your external sphincter to keep...

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  2. Faecal Incontinence

    Faecal incontinence is a symptom of bowel (anorectal) dysfunction, occurring as a result of a dysfunctional coordination of the internal and external sphincter muscles, and pelvic floor muscles. If you suffer from faecal incontinence you will uncontrollably pass gas, and leak liquid and/or solid faeces occasionally, or multiple times a day.

    The internal sphincter is unconsciously contracted throughout the day, holding waste matter in the rectum until there is enough to warrant a bowel movement. If the sphincter becomes damaged then you can lose the sensation to go to the bathroom, and it can open to allow soft or small pieces of stool to leak without you realising. This often occurs when you are moving, and is known as passive faecal incontinence.

    The external sphincter is voluntarily relaxed until your rectum becomes full, at which point the internal sphincter gives the sensation to go to the toilet and you contract this sphincter. You will then relax both sphincters...

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  3. Types of Bowel Incontinence

    The bowel is the lower part of the digestive system. It begins after the stomach with the small bowel (small intestine), and includes the large bowel (colon/large intestine), and rectum, ending at the anus. The purpose of the bowel is to absorb nutrients and fluid from the food and drink we intake, before it is removed from the body as waste.

    Food is moved along this path of organs by a series of muscles. At the top of the system they unconsciously contract and relax, and at the bottom you voluntarily control them. For waste to exit the body it passes into the upper anal canal (rectum), which is supported by the levator ani muscles of the pelvic floor. The nerve endings in the rectum are stimulated by the waste, giving you the urge to have a bowel movement. This stimulates the internal sphincter muscle to involuntarily relax and open. You consciously keep your external sphincter contracted, until you are on a toilet, at which point you can voluntarily relax it to allow for...

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