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Faecal incontinence

Faecal incontinence can be a more debilitating, isolating and distressing condition than urinary incontinence.

It can significantly affect quality of every day life. It is often a hidden problem as individuals are too embarrassed to talk with a healthcare professional or their family and friends about the symptoms they are experiencing. As a consequence they often quietly suffer stress, anxiety and depression and can become socially isolated.

‘Faecal incontinence is a symptom, rather than a diagnosis. For many people faecal incontinence is the result of a complex interplay of contributory factors’[1]

Faecal incontinence has many different causes. Once the cause is correctly identified there are treatments that can cure or improve symptoms and strategies that will help individuals to cope and improve the quality of their life.

Impact of faecal incontinence

Faecal incontinence is not only a very unpleasant symptom but it can contribute to medical morbidities:

  • Urinary tract infections (UTIs)
  • Pressure ulcers/moisture lesions
  • Emotional and psychological difficulties
  • Financial worries
  • Self-imposed lifestyle restrictions
  • Bowel dysfunction (with or without bladder dysfunction) is a recognised reason for Care Home admission
  • Faecal incontinence can be a significant factor in adult abuse and bullying


1. Faecal incontinence in adults. NICE Guidance Quality Standard QS54. 2014. [Cited 31 July 2018] Available from: https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/qs54/chapter/introduction

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Understanding Continence Promotion: Effective Management of Bladder and Bowel Dysfunction in Adults

Association for Continence Advice

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