Encopresis

What Is Encopresis?

Encopresis or fecal incontinence is when one passed the age of toilet training frequently passes stool into their clothing. Encopresis is typically diagnosed as a medical condition in individuals past the age of four years old. Encopresis typically occurs when the colon becomes too full and liquid stool leaks around the retained stool, staining underwear.

When left untreated, repeated stool retention can cause loss of control over bowel movements.

What Causes Encopresis?

Encopresis is most often caused by waiting too long to empty the bowel. There are two main causes of encopresis or fecal incontinence.

  • Chronic constipation– Individuals, especially children, who are experiencing constipation can avoid going to the restroom if stool is painful to pass.
  • Emotional Stress- Emotional stress undertaken during the toilet training process or emotional stress from life can cause a child to avoid using the restroom.

Risk factors for encopresis include:

  • Certain medications, such as cough suppressants
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Being male
  • Person on the autism spectrum

What are the symptoms of encopresis?

The symptoms and signs of encopresis could include:

  • Leaking of stool into clothing – not to be mistaken with diarrhea
  • Constipation – usually hard, dry stool
  • Passing irregularly large stools
  • Lack of appetite
  • Repeated bladder infections – most common in females

What Are The Treatments For Encopresis?

In general, the earlier a person begins treatment, the better.

Many treatment options focus on the clearing of the bowel and prevention of constipation. The main treatments for encopresis or fecal incontinence include:

  • Laxatives
  • Enemas
  • Rectal suppositories
  • High fiber diet
  • Avoiding dairy
  • Psychotherapy
  • Drinking plenty of water