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Inflammatory bowel disease, bottled/filtered water vs. tap water

Created date

June 5th, 2015

Q. I’ve had inflammatory bowel disease for years and thus I experience occasional diarrhea. But lately, I cannot get to the bathroom in time. Is there something I can do to help?

A. Incontinence can be a common occurrence as you age, especially urinary incontinence. Fecal incontinence is less common, however, affecting up to 7% of adults. Your doctor may diagnose you with fecal incontinence if you experience it more than once for at least one month.  There are several treatments available. A bulking agent, which makes stools less watery, may be recommended. There are also over-the-counter and prescription antidiarrheal medications, or you may need bowel training. In addition, dietary changes such as reducing caffeine may reduce the frequency of diarrheal bowel movements. The most important thing to do first, however, is see your doctor. Although you have inflammatory bowel disease, something else could be going on such as an infection or you may be having a medication side effect.

Q. Is filtered or bottled water better than tap water? 

A. Tap water from municipal water systems in the U.S. is generally safe. An exception is if your water supply has been interrupted for a period of time due to a water main break or weather problems. In that case, you should wait to use water from the tap for drinking or cooking until your local government says it is safe. Well water, whether it’s from a private source or a small community well, should be tested regularly. And if you have cancer, an immune system disorder, or have had an organ transplant, you should boil well water before using it to drink, cook, or brush your teeth.  When it comes to bottled water, even so-called spring water is the same as tap water in many areas. Finally, filtered water is not necessarily healthier than other types. Overall, older adults should drink plenty of water to stay in the best health, regardless of the source.

Dr. Suneja received her medical degree at Maulana Azad Medical College in New Delhi, India. She completed her residency in internal medicine at Sinai Grace Hospital, affiliated with Wayne State University in Detroit, Mich. She is board-certified in internal medicine. Suneja joined Fox Run in November 2003.