What lifestyle changes should I make if I have fecal incontinence?

Many people mistakenly believe that there’s nothing you can do about accidental bowel leakage (ABL), also known as fecal incontinence, but healthy lifestyle changes can make a difference.

Using fiber to help make the stool consistent can be especially important for people with ABL. Reducing caffeine, artificial sweeteners or spicy foods also may help. In addition, pelvic floor exercises (Kegel exercises) and biofeedback can be helpful. 

This is a condition where making dietary and lifestyle choices can be empowering. Once women and men start taking steps to manage their symptoms, many will find their overall health and well-being improves.

If you have fecal incontinence, you can benefit from keeping your anal area clean and dry. Wash with plain water after every bowel movement, or use alcohol-free towelettes. Use a moisture-barrier cream, or non-medicated talcum powder, to relieve discomfort on the anal area. Wear loose-fitting, cotton clothing and underwear. Some people find disposable underwear or pads helpful, especially when out of the home. As your doctor about exercises (such as those for the sphincter) that might help your condition. Your doctor may also recommend trying a medication like loperamide in small amounts, depending on the cause of your condition; use only under medical supervision. Avoid foods that make your fecal incontinence symptoms worse. Eat plenty of fiber and drink plenty of water.

Continue Learning about Fecal Incontinence

How common is fecal incontinence?
According to a recent study, nearly one in five women over the age of 40 reported an episode of acci...
More Answers
How does age affect my risk for accidental bowel leakage (ABL)?
David C. Fiore, MDDavid C. Fiore, MD
The likelihood of having accidental bowel leakage (ABL) increases with age. ABL, also called fecal i...
More Answers
How long does fecal incontinence last?
Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)
Fecal incontinence can sometimes be short-term, if its cause is treatable. In other cases, however, ...
More Answers
A Different Kind of Incontinence
A Different Kind of Incontinence

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.