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How can I improve my stool consistency if I have accidental bowel leakage?

Stool consistency can make accidental bowel leakage (ABL) better or worse. If stools are liquid or loose, they are harder to hold onto (just like it is hard to hold water in your cupped hands). If stools are too hard, like little pebbles, they can slip out easily. It is easiest to control and eliminate stools that are well formed, like logs. 

Fiber is an important part of achieving appropriate consistency, and it can be helpful in treating both diarrhea and constipation. When stools are too loose, fiber can absorb excess water to bulk up the stools and make them more formed. When you are constipated and stools are too hard, fiber can pull water into stools to make them softer -- but in that case, fiber has to be taken with plenty of water.

A fiber diary can help you record your fiber, food and fluid intake as well as the impact of those things on your stool consistency. Fiber comes in lots of different forms, so you can experiment to find the sources of fiber that you enjoy. Some examples of high-fiber foods include kidney beans, navy beans, black beans, lentils, peas and artichokes. You can consult online sources to find the fiber content in these, and other, foods.

Cereals and nutrition bars are good fiber sources as well, and you can check their nutrition labels for details about how much fiber they contain.  You can also take fiber supplements available over the counter if you don’t enjoy any of these food options.

If stool remains loose even after supplementing with fiber, you may be able to use an over-the-counter antidiarrheal medication like loperamide (Imodium).

If your stools remain hard even after supplementing with fiber and drinking plenty of water, you may be able to use a gentle laxative such as milk of magnesia or MiraLAX. You should not take both antidiarrheals and laxatives at the same time. If you cannot achieve your goal stool consistency with these lifestyle changes, ask your healthcare provider for help. He or she may recommend consultation with a specialist.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.