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.
This makes it important to find a way to manage your bowel issues.
What can I do to manage my bowel problems?
Bowel issues 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.
What is transanal irrigation?
Transanal irrigation is where water is introduced into the bowel using a rectal catheter. The water stimulates the bowel and flushes out the stool, leaving the lower half of the bowel empty. It’s important to do it regularly to prevent constipation and the risk of bowel accidents.
How often should I irrigate?
For most people, every 1–2 days works well. It’s important to do it regularly to prevent constipation and the risk of bowel accidents. It’s also best to get into a regular routine, rather than changing too much. With time and practice you’ll find out what works best for you. If you’re not sure, ask your doctor or nurse for advice.
What time of the day is best for irrigating?
Try to get into a routine where you irrigate around the same time of the day. Eating and drinking helps the bowel’s natural movement, so about 30 minutes after a meal is a good time. But don’t be afraid to change the routine slightly to suit your day-to-day routine.
Can I travel with the irrigation equipment?
Yes – remember to bring your irrigation system along with lots of disposable catheters as they may not sell them everywhere. If you’re going to use the system abroad, use bottled or cooled boiled water in places where the tap water is not safe to drink. Remember in different time zones your body may take a while to get used to a new routine. You may also be eating different types of food, which can affect the bowels.
Does anal irrigation hurt?
No, transanal irrigation does not normally hurt and is perfectly safe. However it may feel a little strange at first. If it is uncomfortable when the water is pumped in, stop for a while and then continue. If you are in pain, stop irrigating immediately, deflate the balloon and remove the catheter. If the pain persists, contact your nurse or doctor for help.
Are there any risks or complications of irrigating?
Some people experience minor problems such as discomfort or a little bleeding. If the catheter is not inserted correctly, it can cause a hole or tear in the bowel, however this risk is very small if you follow the instructions you get from your doctor or nurse.
What should I do if I leak between irrigations?
If you experience bowel leakage between irrigations, the cause may be insufficient emptying of your bowel due to constipation or hard stool. Alternatively, you may be using too much water during irrigation. Contact your doctor or nurse to help you adapt to your bowel plan.