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Encopresis, or fecal incontinence, is when someone past 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. If you or your child struggles with fecal incontinence, contact the experts at GI Alliance for help.

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
  • Being on the autism spectrum

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

If you or your child is experiencing any of the listed symptoms, contact a board-certified expert gastroenterologist through GI Alliance today.

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
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If you or your child are having difficulty with fecal incontinence, it can be an embarrassing problem to face. For patients like you, there is hope and help through the board-certified experts at GI Alliance. As the nation's leading physician-led network of gastroenterologists, GI Alliance is well-equipped to treat and manage all manner of GI disorders including encopresis. Contact a GI Alliance location near you to get expert help as soon as possible.

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