This FAQ is intended as a guide to commonly asked questions. Please always consult your healthcare professional regarding bowel problems.
How does the bowel work?
The bowel is the last section of the digestive system and is divided into the small intestines and the large intestines (the colon, rectum and anus). The main function of the small intestine is to absorb nutrients from food digested in the stomach. The main function of the large intestine is to absorb water and to form stools from any waste products that cannot be used by the body. Stools are discharged from the body via the rectum and anus. View a video of how the bowel works.
What is bowel leakage?
Bowel leakage occurs when you cannot control when your bowels open, resulting in a bowel accident. The condition can range from minor leakage and soiling of underclothes to complete and uncontrolled emptying of the rectum.
What is constipation?
The symptoms vary from person to person but are often characterised by decreased bowel movements, bloating, discomfort, straining and spending long amounts of time try to pass stool.
What are the causes of bowel problems?
Bowel problems can be caused by a number of different conditions – some relatively minor and some potentially life threatening. Neurogenic causes include spinal cord injury, spina bifida and multiple sclerosis. Non-neurogenic causes include obstetric trauma (sphincter muscle damage after childbirth), cancer of the bowel or colon, Inflammatory bowel disease. This list is by no means exhaustive.
What is neurogenic bowel?
Neurogenic bowel describes a lack of nervous control which prevents the bowel from functioning effectively. The effect on bowel function depends on where the spinal cord is damaged.
How can bowel problems affect my lifestyle?
Bowel leakage and constipation can be very uncomfortable, and they also have a significant impact on our quality of life. Apart from the frequent physical discomfort and bloating, you may worry about having an accident in public. It makes it important to find a way to take care of your bowel.
What can I do to manage my bowel problems?
Bowel problems can often be improved by changing diet; there are also several types of medication that can help. Transanal irrigation can be used to help prevent constipation and bowel leakage.
Find out more
Read more about Peristeen®, a bowel irrigation system, for predictable bowel management.