What can we do about my husband's "smell" after rectal surgery?

A fellow caregiver asked...

My husband had rectal cancer surgery about 10 years ago. It seems that the leakage has worsened. All of his rectum was not removed. However we were told that after his radiation that his rectum is like a pipe. I don't want to see his lifestyle diminish. He is having a hard time in public areas and around people such as in church because of "the smell". Is there anything he can do to help?

Expert Answer

As Founder and Director of Circles of Care, Ann Cason provides caregiving, consulting, and training services to individuals and public and private organizations involved in eldercare. She is the author of Circles of Care: How to Set Up Quality Home Care for Our Elders.

I am sorry to hear about your husband's trouble. People who have rectal surgery sometimes have to deal with odor. Since the leakage has grown worse, I would suggest seeing the doctor to find out if there is a surgical correction.Techniques have advanced in ten years.

Also, before your husband goes out to church or other social events, make sure he is freshly bathed and is wearing an incontinence product. He no longer would need to wear a diaper. Instead, he could wear a product that is like underwear. Make sure when the new underwear is pulled up, that is fits well around the legs..You should take a bag with you with a change of underwear so that if odor leaks out, he will be able to clean up.

Throughout the day when he is at home, the skin should be kept clean and as dry as possible.

If his stools are very loose, he might want to take a product to fight diarhea. Also, it might be good, if your doctor permits, to have more fiber in the diet so that the feces is larger.

And finallly, it might help to consult witih a nutritionist or naturopathic doctor to see if there is any nutritional help. If there is too much mucus in the bowel movement, it might cause problems. This is very difficult problem to solve; I hope you will be able to help your husband.