Traveling With Bowel Incontinence

Bowel incontinence (fecal incontinence) is a condition in which the patient cannot control his or her bowel movements. However, bowel incontinence is not just limited to stool and can include the inability to control the passing of gas as well. It is not a common condition; only about 2% of women are diagnosed with this condition, but women who have given birth or who have undergone anal trauma (such as a surgery) are at risk. Understandably, bowel incontinence can be very embarrassing, especially if an accident occurs in public. However, no condition should stop people from traveling for the summer. After all, everyone needs a vacation! 

Traveling can be made possible if you have the tools you need to manage it. Whether you are flying or driving, the physicians at West Valley Colon & Rectal Surgery Center want patients to travel with confidence.

Quick Tips:

  • Book your flight early – you may be able to get an isle seat closer to the restroom!
  • Make sure you have your medication – you don’t want to run out mid-trip!
  • In case of accidents, carry a small carry-on bag filled with wet wipes, changes of clothes, and pads. – If you inform the airline of your condition, they may allow more than one carry-on!

Diet is a key factor when managing bowel incontinence. Our physicians suggest eating enough fiber and drinking plenty of water. This means adding fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and more into your diet! It can be difficult to follow this bowel incontinence diet, especially while traveling. If you need a travel snack, veggie straws or dried fruit could be healthier alternatives to snacks you love!

Another habit to adopt before the trip is to practice muscle-strengthening techniques. This is especially true is a woman developed fecal incontinence as a result of giving birth to a high weight baby. The team at West Valley Colon & Rectal Surgery Center can help patients learn how to target their sphincter muscles and pelvic floor muscles in order to strengthen them via Kegel exercises. If necessary, biofeedback training can be used to help.

In some cases, one of our bowel incontinence experts may need to perform surgery in order to treat torn sphincter muscles. Surgical intervention may be recommended if the patient has not responded to biofeedback or changes in diet. Accommodations can be made so that the surgery is scheduled before the trip, although patients will still need to take into account the time they will need to recover from the minimally invasive procedure.

 If you have any questions or wish to make an appointment, please call our office at (623) 875-7330. Thank you again for visiting our weekly blog. In future weeks, you can expect patient education, colon, and rectal educational information, and lifestyle blogs, so check back soon!

The advice and information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace or counter a physician’s advice or judgment. Please always consult your physician before taking any advice learned here or in any other educational medical material.