Encopresis, also referred to as fecal incontinence or soiling, is a recurring situation where stool is passed involuntarily into clothing. This often occurs due to the accumulation of impacted stool in the colon and rectum. As the colon becomes overly full, liquid stool leaks around the compacted stool, leading to staining of underwear. Over time, this stool retention can result in the bowels becoming stretched and distended, causing a loss of control over bowel movements.
Primarily observed in children aged 4 and older who have already undergone toilet training, encopresis is more commonly seen in boys than girls. Prevalence rates range from 1% to 4% among 4–year–olds, with the occurrence diminishing as children grow older. Typically, soiling serves as an indicator of prolonged constipation. In rarer cases, it may manifest without concurrent constipation, potentially stemming from emotional factors.
Encopresis can prove to be a source of frustration for parents and embarrassment for the affected child. Nevertheless, through the application of patience and positive reinforcement, treatment for encopresis tends to yield successful outcomes.
Encopresis symptoms and signs can include:
If your toilet–trained child begins to show one or more of the symptoms listed above, consider reaching out to a doctor.
Encopresis, often caused by chronic constipation, results in hard and painful–to–pass stool. This discomfort leads children to avoid using the toilet, exacerbating the issue. Prolonged stool retention stretches the colon, affecting the nerves signaling bowel movements. This can lead to involuntary leakage or loss of control.
Common constipation causes include:
Additionally, emotional stressors trigger encopresis, including:
Encopresis may indicate an underlying medical issue. Potential conditions linked to encopresis are:
Boys experience encopresis more frequently than girls. These potential risk factors could raise the likelihood of developing encopresis:
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