Fecal Incontinence Early Symptoms & Signs
Medical Author: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Fecal incontinence refers to the inability to hold feces (stool) in the rectum. This is typically due to failure of voluntary control over the anal sphincters, permitting untimely passage of feces and gas. Fecal incontinence is also known as rectal incontinence or bowel incontinence. Fecal incontinence is not a disease itself but is a symptom that can occur as a result of different kinds of diseases or injuries. Incontinence of stool can result from damage to the nerves or muscles of the rectum and anus, or conditions affecting the intestines. Overflow incontinence, also known as paradoxical diarrhea, occurs in people with chronic constipation when stool fills the rectum, hardens, and becomes impacted. Liquid stool then may leak around the fecal mass, producing symptoms similar to incontinence.
Health concern on your mind? Visit the Symptom Checker.
Longo, Dan, et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 18th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Professional, 2011.
Main Article on Fecal Incontinence
Causes of Fecal Incontinence
In This ArticleAlzheimer's Disease Article
- Alzheimer's disease facts
- What is Alzheimer's disease?
- What's the difference between Alzheimer's disease and dementia?
- Who's at risk for getting Alzheimer's disease?
- Ten warning signs and symptoms of Alzheimer's disease
- What are the symptoms or stages of Alzheimer's disease?
- What causes Alzheimer's disease?
- How Alzheimer's disease diagnosed?
- What treatment and management options are available for Alzheimer's disease patients?
- Alzheimer's disease medications
- Non-drug based treatments for Alzheimer's disease
- Treatment of psychiatric symptoms in Alzheimer's disease
- What is the prognosis for a person with Alzheimer's disease?
- Caring for the caregiver and Alzheimer's disease resources
In This ArticleAnal Cancer Article
- Anal cancer facts*
- Anal anatomy
- What is anal cancer?
- What are anal cancer statistics?
- What are the risk factors for anal cancer?
- What are the symptoms and signs of anal cancer?
- What are the different types of anal cancer?
- Anal cancer screening and early detection
- How is anal cancer diagnosed?
- Anal cancer staging
- What types of doctors treat anal cancer?
- What is the treatment for anal cancer?
- Radiation therapy
- Combination chemotherapy and radiation therapy
- How is stage IV anal cancer or metastasis treated?
- Can anal cancer be prevented?
- What is the prognosis for anal cancer?
- Where can one find information about clinical trials for anal cancer?
In This ArticleCrohn's Disease Article
- Crohn's disease facts
- What is Crohn's disease?
- What causes Crohn's disease?
- How does Crohn's disease affect the intestines?
- How is Crohn's disease different from ulcerative colitis?
- What are the symptoms of Crohn's disease?
- What are the complications of Crohn's disease?
- How is Crohn's disease diagnosed?
- How is Crohn's disease treated?
- Crohn's Disease Medications
- Anti-inflammatory medications
- 5-ASA (mesalamine) oral medications
- 5-ASA rectal medications (Rowasa, Canasa)
- Budesonide (Entocort EC)
- Antibiotics for Crohn's disease
- Immuno-modulator medications
- Azathioprine (Imuran) and 6-mercaptopurine (6-MP, Purinethol)
- Infliximab (Remicade)
- Adalimumab (Humira)
- Certolizumab pegol (Cimzia)
- Natalizumab (Tysabri)
- Methotrexate (Rheumatrex, Trexall)
- Surgery in Crohn's disease
- Are there any recommendations for diet, supplementation, or vaccinations for Crohn's disease?
In This ArticleDementia Article
- Dementia facts*
- What is dementia?
- What causes dementia?
- How is dementia diagnosed?
- What are the stages of dementia?
- What are the early signs and symptoms of dementia?
- What are the risk factors for dementia?
- What is the treatment for dementia?
- Can dementia be prevented?
- What is the prognosis and life expectancy for someone with dementia?
- What are the different types of dementia?
- How does one cope with being the caretaker of someone with dementia?
In This ArticleDiabetes (Type 1 and Type 2) Article
- Diabetes facts
- What is diabetes?
- How many people in the US have diabetes?
- 6 early signs and symptoms of diabetes
- How do I know if I have diabetes?
- What causes diabetes?
- What are the different types of diabetes?
- Type 1 diabetes
- Type 2 diabetes
- What are the other types of diabetes?
- How is diabetes diagnosed?
- Why is blood sugar checked at home?
- What are the acute complications of diabetes?
- What are the chronic complications of diabetes?
- What can be done to slow the complications of diabetes?
In This ArticleDiarrhea Article
- Diarrhea facts
- What is diarrhea?
- What is the definition of diarrhea?
- What symptoms are associated with diarrhea?
- What are common causes of acute diarrhea?
- Traveler's diarrhea
- Viral gastroenteritis
- Bacterial enterocolitis
- Food poisoning
- What are common causes of chronic diarrhea?
- What kind of a doctor treats diarrhea?
- When should the doctor be called for diarrhea?
- How is the cause of diarrhea diagnosed?
- What home remedies help the symptoms of diarrhea?
- What medications are used to treat diarrhea?
- When should antibiotics be used for diarrhea?
- What are the complications of diarrhea?
- How can dehydration be prevented and treated?
- What about treatment of diarrhea in infants and young children?
- What about treating diarrhea in older children and adults?
In This ArticleHemorrhoids Article
- Definition of hemorrhoid
- What causes hemorrhoids?
- What are the signs and symptoms of a hemorrhoid?
- What does a hemorrhoid look like?
- How is the diagnosis of hemorrhoids made?
- How are hemorrhoids treated?
- OTC medications and home remedies for hemorrhoids
- Non-surgical approaches
- Hemorrhoid surgery
- What is the prognosis for hemorrhoids?
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (Intestinal Problems of IBD) The inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) are Crohn's disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC). The intestinal complications of...learn more »In This ArticleInflammatory Bowel Disease (Intestinal Problems of IBD) Article
- Intestinal bowel disease facts
- What is inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)?
- What are the intestinal complications of IBD?
- Are the intestinal complications of ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease different?
- Do intestinal ulcers occur in IBD?
- How are ulcers in IBD diagnosed and treated?
- Does gastrointestinal bleeding occur in IBD?
- How is gastrointestinal bleeding in IBD diagnosed and treated?
- How do intestinal strictures form in IBD?
- What are symptoms of intestinal strictures, and how are they diagnosed and treated?
- What are intestinal fistulas?
- What symptoms do fistulas cause and how are they diagnosed and treated?
- What are fissures and how are they treated?
- What is small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO)?
- Does colon cancer occur in IBD?
- What should be done about polyps in IBD?
- What is toxic megacolon and what are its causes and symptoms?
- What kind of malabsorption occurs in IBD?
In This ArticleSpinal Cord Injury: Treatments and Rehabilitation Article
- Spinal Cord Injury Facts
- What is the spinal cord injury?
- What are the causes of spinal cord injury?
- What are the symptoms of spinal cord injury?
- How is a spinal cord injury diagnosed?
- How is a spinal cord injury treated?
- What is the outlook for patients with spinal cord injury?
- Is there a cure for spinal cord injury?
- Where can I get more information on spinal cord injury?
- NIH spinal cord injury: treatments and rehabilitation
- What Is a Spinal Cord Injury?
- How Does the Spinal Cord Work?
- What Happens When the Spinal Cord Is Injured?
- What Are the Immediate Treatments for Spinal Cord Injury?
- How Does a Spinal Cord Injury Affect the Rest of the Body?
- How Does Rehabilitation Help People Recover From Spinal Cord Injuries?
- How Is Research Helping Spinal Cord Injury Patients?
- The Future of Spinal Cord Research
In This ArticleSpondylolisthesis Article
- Spondylolisthesis facts
- What is spondylolisthesis?
- What causes spondylolisthesis?
- What are the risk factors for spondylolisthesis?
- What are spondylolisthesis symptoms?
- How is spondylolisthesis diagnosed? How is the grading determined for spondylolisthesis?
- What is the treatment for spondylolisthesis? What type of surgery treats spondylolisthesis?
- Is it possible to prevent spondylolisthesis?
- What are the complications of spondylolisthesis?
- What is the prognosis for spondylolisthesis?
In This ArticleStroke Article
- Stroke facts
- What is a stroke?
- What are the different types of stroke?
- What causes a stroke?
- What are the risk factors for stroke?
- What is a transient ischemic attack (TIA)?
- What are the warning signs of a stroke?
- What are the symptoms of a stroke?
- How is a stroke diagnosed?
- What is the treatment for stroke?
- What is the prognosis for stroke?
- Is recovery after a stroke possible?
- What is stroke rehabilitation?
- Can strokes be prevented?
In This ArticleUlcerative Colitis Article
- Ulcerative colitis facts
- What is ulcerative colitis?
- What causes ulcerative colitis?
- What are the symptoms of ulcerative colitis?
- How is the diagnosis of ulcerative colitis made?
- What are the complications of ulcerative colitis?
- What are the treatments for ulcerative colitis?
- What are ulcerative colitis medications?
- 5-ASA Compounds
- Systemic corticosteroids (including side effects)
- Golimumab (Simponi)
- What are immunomodulator medications?
- Summary of medication treatment
- Surgery for ulcerative colitis
- Treatment by disease severity and location (based on ACG Practice Guidelines)
- Are there any special dietary requirements for persons with ulcerative colitis?
- What research is being done regarding ulcerative colitis?
Other Causes of Fecal Incontinence
Examples of Medications for Fecal Incontinence
Symptoms & Signs A-Z List
Get the latest treatment options.