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Symptom Of IBS: Diarrhea Urgency And Incontinence

What is urgency and fecal incontinence?

Urgency or fecal incontinence is the loss of bowel control, which leads to the passing of stool unexpectedly. This may include leaking a small amount of stool with the passing of gas or being unable to control a bowel movement.1 Incontinence is a contributing factor in how people describe the severity of their IBS.2

Who is most likely to have fecal incontinence?

About one third of people with diarrhea-predominant IBS experienced loss of bowel control or had sudden urges to have bowel movements.3 Though not as prevalent, people with mixed IBS or constipation-predominant IBS may also have fecal incontinence. It is equally prevalent in males and females.4

How can I relieve my symptoms of fecal incontinence?

Discussing bathroom habits may be embarrassing, but it’s important to discuss this symptom with your doctor. It is best to always tell your doctor about symptoms of fecal incontinence, because it may not only be a symptom of IBS but a possible symptom of another type of gastrointestinal disorder. In fact, only half of people with fecal incontinence report their symptoms to their doctor.4 Doctors may suggest adding fiber to your diet to improve symptoms of fecal incontinence. Eliminating certain foods, such as alcohol, caffeine, fried and greasy foods, and fructose may improve incontinence. Medication may be an option, but not commonly used. Surgery may be a choice for some people if other treatment options have not corrected the problem.1

Written by: Truc Thanh | Last reviewed: June 2016.
  1. MedlinePlus. Bowel incontinence. Accessed April 10, 2016.
  2. IBS Patients: Their Illness Experience and Unmet Needs. IFFGD 2009.
  3. International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders. IBS in the Real World Survey. Summary Findings. August 2002.
  4. Atarodi S, Rafieian S, Whorwell PJ. Faecal incontinence – the hidden scourge of irritable bowel syndrome: a cross-sectional study. BM Open Gastro. 2014;1:e000002.