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Fecal Incontinence

Overview :

Fecal incontinence, also called bowel incontinence, can occur at any age, but is most common among people over the age of 65, who sometimes have to cope with urinary incontinence as well. It was reported in 1998 that about 2% of adults experience fecal incontinence at least once a week whereas for healthy independent adults over the age of 65 the figure is about 7%. An extensive American survey, published in 1993, found fecal soiling in 7.1% of the surveyed population, with gross incontinence in 0.7%. For men and women the incidence of soiling was the same, but women were almost twice as likely to suffer from gross incontinence.

The wider public health impact of fecal incontinence is considerable. In the United States, more than $400 million is spent each year on disposable underwear and other incontinence aids. Fecal incontinence is the second most common reason for seeking a nursing home placement. One-third of the institutionalized elderly suffer from this condition. Incontinence sufferers, however, often hesitate to ask their doctors for help because they are embarrassed or ashamed. The 1993 American survey discovered that only one-sixth of those experiencing soiling had sought medical advice, and only one-half of those afflicted with gross incontinence.

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