How do medications treat fecal incontinence?

Medications can treat your fecal incontinence in a number of ways. Anti-diarrheal drugs can lower your risk of accidents. If your fecal incontinence is the result of stool impaction, your doctor may prescribe stool softeners to prevent impaction from recurring. Laxatives can help treat fecal incontinence caused by chronic constipation. Other medications can treat fecal incontinence by reducing the amount of liquid in your stool, or by inhibiting your bowels' muscular contractions.

Anthony L. Komaroff, MD
Internal Medicine
Diarrhea is a very common aggravating factor in fecal incontinence (unintended passage of stool). If food seems to move through your digestive system rapidly, your doctor may suggest an antidiarrheal medicine such as loperamide (Imodium) or diphenoxylate and atropine (Lomotil). This can solidify your stools and make them less frequent. Loperamide has the side benefit of increasing muscle tone in the internal anal sphincter, which can also help with incontinence. Another medication, the tricyclic antidepressant amitriptyline, also reduces the number of bowel movements. Some doctors have used it successfully to improve fecal incontinence, although the effectiveness of this treatment has not yet been confirmed in a controlled study.

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