What is Fecal Soiling or Encopresis?

It is seen that many small children suffer from chronic constipation that means the child is unable to pass motion on regular basis. Therefore when a child who is toilet trained and yet passes motion in the underwear is called as fecal soiling or encopresis. Many children do face such incontinence stool. This habit should be controlled in the beginning itself or it may become a habit on later stage. There is no cause as such for this particular type of constipation. Sometimes the stool or fecal soiling is passed out involuntarily. It all depends on the child because every child has his way or own rate of controlling the bowel. Fecal soiling or encopresis is not considered as a problem in the medical term until the child attains 4 years of age.

What is Fecal Soiling or Encopresis?

Causes of Fecal Soiling or Encopresis

In many cases it is found that the child is born with fecal soiling or encopresis that is caused by anatomical abnormality. Some of the constipated children start their bowel movement with pain passing out large stools. This process of passing stool is ignored by the child. By and large the child holds up the stool passing in order to avoid pain and in turn this becomes a habit. The main causes of fecal soiling or encopresis are constipation and emotional stress that acts on the nerves which controls the bowel movements. Poor hydration is one of the main cause for constipation. Secondly the child at times feels lazy to pass stools and in this way the stool gets hardened thus causing constipation. Diagnosis should be done properly and find the reason for constipation.

Some of the other causes of fecal soiling or encopresis are:

  • Diet containing low fibre like fruit whole grains vegetables.
  • Constipation is mainly due to consumption of milk, cheese, white bread and rice.
  • Consuming less quantity of water can cause fecal soiling or encopresis.
  • When the constipated child passes hard stool, they develops some cracks on the rectal wall known as fissures which is very painful.
  • Medically having low level of thyroid hormones may also lead to retarding the digestives system.

Symptoms of Fecal Soiling or Encopresis

Most of the children show some signs and symptoms of soiling their undergarments, and with foul odour of the stool:

  • The child constipates and after a long time they feel the bowel movements. With the passage of stool you can even find blood streaks.
  • Developing pain in the lower abdomen or rectum is a symptom of fecal soiling or encopresis.
  • Because of pressure that is applied by the child because of constipation bedwetting is done by the child. This process of bed wetting later on becomes a habit in the child developing into enuresis.
  • Poor appetite.
  • Child may experience frequent urinary tract infection.
  • Soiling of the clothes being unnoticed by the child.

Tests to Diagnose Fecal Soiling or Encopresis

When the child is taken to the doctor he will understand the child's past history. Sometimes doctors advise to go for imaging test for diagnosing fecal soiling or encopresis to find out about the intestine. Sometimes doctor also advice to take X-ray of the intestine, so as to find whether there are some kind of abnormalities or not.

Treatment for Fecal Soiling or Encopresis

The doctor after examining the child will start the treatment for fecal soiling or encopresis immediately based on the diagnosis with respect to the age of the child and severity of the problem. Some of the treatment like softening of the stool and the functions of the intestine will be controlled by the medication. Doctor may also treat by giving the child some kind of laxative to loosen and soften the stool. Once the child is treated for the longer time then he will get used to passing motion regularly.

When the child is examined by the doctor and diagnosis reveals that the child is suffering from fecal soiling or encopresis, the doctor will provide medication to remove the hard blockage in the rectum and relieve constipation. The product includes mineral oil, laxatives, or enemas.

Home Remedies for Fecal Soiling or Encopresis

A good home remedy for fecal soiling or encopresis is to make the child eat balanced diet like fruit, vegetables, high fibre food all this will help to soften the stools. Above this the child should be made to have sufficient water. According to the latest studies it is found that Biofeedback is becoming a popular method of treatment which helps the child to learn how to use his abdominal sphincters and anal muscles.

Diet for Fecal Soiling or Encopresis

To overcome fecal soiling or encopresis problem in children it is advised to adopt good diet plan and eat high fiber diet which will enable the bowel moment to flush out the fecal matters. Some of the foods included in the diet are:

  • Grapes.
  • Broccoli.
  • Beans.
  • Strawberries.
  • Bran.

It is also advised that the child should be made to drink lots of water and do regular exercise in the form of playing.

Recovery Period/Healing Time for Fecal Soiling or Encopresis

Most of the children will get recovery from fecal soiling or encopresis but sometimes it may take longer time to several months for recovery depending upon the severity of encopresis till the time the stool get softened and can be expelled easily. All the fecal soiling or encopresis treatments in children have their own healing time.

Prevention of Fecal Soiling or Encopresis

The most important thing is to avoid constipation by having proper diet, and have plenty of fruits and vegetables, wheat bread and cereals in order to prevent fecal soiling or encopresis. The child has to consume maximum amount of water and other physical activities. Ensure that the child develops regular timing for his bowel movement. He should use the toilet seat in a right way and attend to natures call. Healthy and rich diet is very essential for the child.

Risk Factors for Fecal Soiling or Encopresis

The studies have revealed that boys are more affected with fecal soiling or encopresis than girls. Some of the risk factors are due to following such as:

  • The children who are given cough syrup containing the suppressants may cause constipation.
  • Fecal soiling or encopresis is also associated with anxiety or feeling very low.
  • Sometimes spectrum disorder that leads to autism is a risk factor.
  • Also you will come across children hyperactive disorder.
  • Collected stools in the colon can affect the nerves that controls the bowel.
  • Boys are more likely to affected with fecal soiling or encopresis than girls.
  • Children who are not toilet trained may feel emotional and social stress.
  • There are many other disorders such as childhood and adolescent emotional disorders.

Complications in Fecal Soiling or Encopresis

There are chances that children suffering from fecal soiling or encopresis can undergo different types of emotions, frustrations, getting angry, feeling shy or developing shame or even feel embarrassed. All this happens when the child is insulted or teased in front of others telling them about soiling of the garments etc... They may feel ashamed or even feel depressed or may develop low esteem.

So far are small children are concerned parents should make them understand when they are at home alone and not in front of others.

Prognosis/Outlook for Fecal Soiling or Encopresis

The prognosis or outlook for fecal soiling or encopresis is excellent if the problem is identified and proper action is taken. Many children undergo treatment for fecal soiling or encopresis but still there are some who try to resolve themselves on their own as they grow up. There are chance that once treated for fecal soiling or encopresis can also reoccur if not taken proper care of diet. It can persist in adulthood also.

Coping with Fecal Soiling or Encopresis

Fecal soiling or encopresis occurs when small quantity of fecal matter oozes through the anus which occurs as a result of severe constipation or diarrhea. For that one should use the best incontinence product to cope with the problem.

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD, FFARCSI

Last Modified On: February 6, 2017

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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