Home » Bladder and bowel » There are a range of treatment options for bowel conditions

Sarah Kinsella

Clinician & RGN Bowel Specialist Nurse, Renew Medical

Bowel dysfunction can have an emotional, social and physical impact on those who struggle to manage the debilitating symptoms.

Constipation and faecal incontinence are symptoms of bowel dysfunction and cause distress, discomfort and anxiety, with many sufferers struggling alone and often too embarrassed to seek medical help. But experts emphasise the importance getting advice from the right healthcare professionals to access a range of solutions that can enable people to confidently carry on with their lives.

Bowel dysfunction

Sarah Kinsella, a specialist nurse with many years experience in bowel management, runs clinics in the Bristol area. She sees patients with faecal incontinence and constipation who are referred into the service by their GP with symptoms. She recognises the importance: “Problems with bowel function affect people’s wellbeing and ability to get out and enjoy life.”

Anyone can suffer from bowel dysfunction, for example as a result of neurological conditions like multiple sclerosis, perhaps menopause-related issues, or muscle damage from childbirth. “People of all ages can find themselves isolated at home, unable to socialise, perhaps with a new baby, or having had to give up work as a result of bowel dysfunction.”

Patients need to know they are not alone.

Therapeutic management

Specialist nurses or physiotherapists assess an individual holistically to fully understand the extent of the problem. Lifestyle and diet will be reviewed during this process and generally a conservative management plan will often be the first step to recovery.

In addition, therapeutic medical devices, such as trans anal irrigation or inserts, can be added to the treatment plan at any point with the clinicians involved being well placed to advise and support the patients understanding.

“The right product can have a positive impact on quality of life for patients that are having continence issues and do not want to leave the house because of the fear of having a bowel accident,” explains Sarah, who underlined the importance of raising awareness of treatment choices for patients.

Regaining confidence

The devices are simple to use and allow patients to self-manage their symptoms with dignity. She says:

“It can be a massive positive for patients to be able to start returning to their usual activities. People often say to me that it has been life-changing,” says Sarah, who is a nurse under the Renew Medical umbrella and has been a bowel dysfunction specialist for 10 years.

“Patients need to know they are not alone. They often say they felt totally isolated and did not realise how many people had the same problems until they started talking to health care professionals. They then wish they had sought help earlier.”

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