How to Choose the Best Bowel Incontinence Products

July 22, 2021

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Over 25 million Americans are living with incontinence. While urinary incontinence is more common than bowel incontinence, many incontinence products are designed to absorb urine, making identifying bowel incontinence supplies more difficult. Tranquility® is here to help! If you or someone you know is struggling with bowel incontinence of any level, this guide can help you understand how to choose the best bowel incontinence products.

What is Bowel Incontinence?

Bowel incontinence, also known as fecal incontinence, is the involuntary loss of feces or stool. Bowel incontinence can range from full loss of control, like diarrhea, to light soiling when passing gas. Some will experience bowel incontinence daily, whereas others only deal with bowel incontinence from time to time. Fecal incontinence is a condition, and it is often a result of another medical condition or disease. Common causes of fecal incontinence include nerve damage, muscle damage, rectal prolapse, surgery, childbirth and physical disability.

The three primary types of bowel incontinence are accidental leakage of mucus, liquid stool and solid stool.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), bowel leakage affects over 17% of adults aged 65 and older who reside in the community, with even higher percentages for older adults who live in nursing homes or are receiving hospice services. Children with disabilities and complex care needs are also at risk for experiencing fecal incontinence. Individuals can experience bowel and urinary incontinence, called dual incontinence, or can just experience urinary or bowel incontinence. It is more common to have dual incontinence than it is to experience just bowel incontinence.

Why Are Incontinence Products Needed for Bowel Incontinence?

Incontinence products are one of the best methods of protection when it comes to fecal incontinence. Depending on the frequency and severity of bowel incontinence, there are a few treatment options. The most common treatment options are:

  • Surgery (colostomy, rectal prolapse surgery)
  • Exercises (Kegels, bowel training)
  • Therapies (nerve stimulation, radiofrequency therapy)
  • Medications (laxatives, anti-diarrheal drugs)
  • Disposable incontinence products

While disposable products are more of a management solution than a treatment, they are very common due to the low risk of side effects. For children and adults who experience bowel incontinence, disposable incontinence products provide the necessary containment to minimize odors, protect clothing and limit embarrassment. Those who experience bowel incontinence but do not have the solution to protect them are at risk for social isolation, skin irritation and other challenges (depression, frustration, poor nutrition, etc).

Top Product Considerations

If you are in the market for the best bowel incontinence products, there are 3 primary product considerations. Depending on the frequency and severity of your fecal incontinence, as well as your lifestyle and preference, the importance of each consideration will vary. For those with dual incontinence, absorbency may be the most important, whereas those with only mucus discharge may not be concerned with absorbency or containment.

#1 Containment

When it comes to fecal incontinence, containment is often the most important aspect of a disposable incontinence product. Particularly for those with daily, heavy fecal incontinence episodes, containment is a must. To minimize odors, protect clothing and limit embarrassment, containing stool within a disposable product is critical.

The best products for containing stool are disposable briefs and disposable underwear. Disposable briefs are tab-style products that utilize tape-tabs to adhere, similar to how baby diapers are applied. Disposable underwear, also known as protective underwear, are pull-on style products that pull-on like traditional underwear. Both of these styles go between the legs and have full-rise waist panels that go up to the belly, providing a wide area of protection, compared to other product styles (pads and liners), while also being concealable under clothing.

An important product feature to ensure containment are leg cuffs that channel urine and stool into the center of the product. At Tranquility, we call these Kufguards®, and they are designed to minimize leaks at the leg openings by channeling fluid to the core of the product. This not only helps prevent leaks, but for those with urinary incontinence, it also helps utilize the full absorbent capacity. Leg cuffs are a critical product feature of the best incontinence products for bowel incontinence.

Important: It is always recommended to change your incontinence product promptly after a bowel movement. Skin irritation and other infections can result from skin exposure to feces.

#2 Absorbency

Since dual incontinence is more common than bowel incontinence only, many children and adults with bowel incontinence will also need absorbency for their urinary incontinence. At Tranquility, the most common problems we hear about are results of low-absorbency products – soiled linens, excessive laundry, long nights of cleaning up accidents, fear of embarrassing leaks and more. Many people think this is just a common part of being incontinent, but it is not! Highly absorbent products, like those from Tranquility, can offer hours of protection while minimizing leaks, even for adults with heavy urinary episodes.

When looking for the best incontinence products for dual incontinence, be sure to look closely for the stated product absorbency. If you cannot find a clearly stated product absorbency, you can contact the manufacturer or move on to another product. Tranquility Products always provide a clearly stated product absorbency. In fact, we guarantee Tranquility products absorb and contain their stated fluid capacity no matter how much pressure is applied to the product – that’s our Real Life Protection.

#3 Style

There are many styles of disposable absorbent products for managing bowel incontinence. The most common are the aforementioned disposable briefs and disposable underwear, as well as liners, guards, booster pads, butterfly pads and more. A few factors go into which product style is best for you.

Severity and Frequency of Bowel Episodes

The most important factor in determining the best product style is the severity and frequency of your bowel episodes. If you experience very light bowel leakage, like mucus or small amounts of discharge when you pass gas, butterfly-style patches may work well. Alternatively, if you experience frequent or larger fecal episodes, disposable briefs provide the best protection due to their fit and leg cuffs.

If bowel incontinence episodes occur alongside urinary episodes, we’ve heard that Tranquility Contour Booster Pads are great for easily changing out the booster pad after a bowel episode and continuing to wear the host garment, saving money on products due to fewer changes.

Tranquility Topliner Booster Super Plus (3097) Package

Personal Preference

Depending on the products you have tried before, you may already know the style of disposable product you like. With such a range of product styles available, you may have to try quite a few to determine your own preference. Some individuals prefer the full-rise, full-fitting disposable underwear and briefs. Others prefer something a little more discreet and smaller, like a liner or personal care pads.

Some bowel incontinence products have adhesive, and you may want to consider what style of adhesive you want. For example, many liners adhere to your underwear with an adhesive strip on the outside of the product, whereas butterfly patches are tucked between your cheeks and adhere to the skin for a secure fit.

Usage and Needs

Another factor to consider when choosing an incontinence product is what your needs are and how the product will be used. For the most part, many product styles suit the various lifestyle needs. However, it’s important to know that disposable swim diapers are available if you need fecal containment while swimming! Swimmates® are disposable swimwear that are worn under a bathing suit. They are designed for minimal swelling and do not break apart when wet like other disposable products. Swimmates disposable swimwear are only for bowel containment, so children and adults with bowel incontinence can enjoy water therapy or time swimming in the water.

Swimmates Disposable Swimwear - M (2845) Package

Tip: For those who just need bowel containment, we’ve heard from some wearers with bowel incontinence that they wear Swimmates for protection even when not swimming or planning for water activities.

Size and Cost are also important considerations for choosing the best bowel incontinence products. Click to read more about Size and Cost in our How to Choose the Best Incontinence Underwear & Adult Diapers article.

For adults and children dealing with bowel incontinence, there are several related products that can be helpful for management and clean-up.

Cleansing Wipes

Cleansing wipes are a fantastic product for those with urinary and fecal incontinence. Protecting the skin after a bowel episode is critical to minimizing irritation and more problematic challenges, like incontinence-associated dermatitis. It is recommended to use at least one cleansing wipe following each fecal incontinence episode to remove any remaining stool that may be on the skin. Cleansing wipes are a sanitary, quick way to clean up messes and can be used by caregivers to clean challenging areas of the body.

Gloves

When it comes to cleaning up fecal episodes, gloves are another product to help keep clean. After an episode and before changing the incontinence product, slip on a pair of vinyl or nitrile disposable gloves to add an extra layer of protection. Gloves are great for keeping your hands clean during product changes but can also be used for many other purposes around the house, including cleaning (to avoid contact with harsh chemicals), pet care, first aid and more. Caregivers share that disposable gloves make clean up much more manageable.

Pro-Tip: Try Samples!

The best way to find the right bowel incontinence product for you or someone in your care is to try samples. That’s why we offer free two-pack samples of nearly all of our products! Testing the product for yourself before buying in bulk is a great way to ensure you don’t waste money on a product that doesn’t work.

If you need additional support in determining what Tranquility product is best to support your bowel incontinence needs, please contact us and we will be happy to assist you.