Information for the public

Advice for specific groups of people

Advice for specific groups of people

The way in which faecal incontinence is assessed and managed will also depend on whether any of the following apply to you or the person you care for.

  • If you have faecal loading you will be offered medicines that encourage the bowel to empty. First you should be offered medicines that are put in the rectum. If these do not work, you may also be given a strong laxative to swallow, and the side effects associated with this medicine should be explained to you.

  • You may be offered medicine to help you empty your bowel. If you have a carer you should take your medicine at a pre-planned time so that your carer is there to help you when you need the toilet.

  • If you (or the person you care for) have severe problems with memory or learning disabilities, you should be assessed to see whether there is any behavioural reason for your faecal incontinence. If so, appropriate treatment should be started.

  • If you have a neurological condition (a condition of the nervous system) or spinal problems you should be offered specific treatment that is based on your own preferences and takes into account how your bowel has been affected by disease or injury. You should also be given general advice on coping and long-term management (see Review and long-term management). You may be offered further treatments if managing your incontinence severely limits your lifestyle. These treatments may include rectal irrigation, or surgery (see If you need surgery).

  • If you are being fed through a tube and have problems with incontinence, the type and timing of your feeds should be adjusted.

Questions for family members, friends and carers

  • What can I/we do to help and support the person with faecal incontinence?

  • Is there any additional support that I/we as carer(s) might benefit from or are entitled to?

It is essential that people with severe learning disabilities have the same care and treatment during assessment and management of faecal incontinence as other people do. People with severe learning disabilities – whether they have had faecal incontinence from childhood or have experienced it for the first time as an adult – may need additional support to achieve outcomes similar to those of other people.

Questions about treatment

  • Please tell me why you have decided to offer me this particular type of treatment.

  • What are the pros and cons of having this treatment?

  • Please tell me what the treatment will involve.

  • How will the treatment help me? What effect will it have on my symptoms and everyday life? What sort of improvements might I expect?

  • How long will it take to have an effect?

  • Are there any risks associated with this treatment?

  • Is there some written information (like a leaflet) about the treatment that I can have?