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Friday, March 7, 2008

Childhood Diseases – What is Encopresis?

Childhood Diseases – What is Encopresis?

Encopresis can also be termed as fecal incontinence, soiling, fecal soiling, retentive encopresis, nonretentive encopresis, feces, stool, and rectal distention.

As the name itself suggests, this condition, an Elimination Disorder, is characterized by bowel movements that occur in places other than the toilet. Elimination Disorders occur most commonly in children who have problem in going to the toilet for both defecating as well as urinating. The condition associated with defecating is called Encopresis. While it is common for young children to have occasional "accidents," there may be a problem if this behavior occurs repeatedly for longer than 3 months, particularly in children older than 5 years.

It can be quite a frustrating experience for the parents whose kids suffer from this disorder as the kids are generally beyond the age of toilet training (older than 4 years old) and frequently soil their underwear. Many parents may falsely assume that their kids are simply misbehaving or too lazy to go to the toilet when they get the urge. Children who are affected by this disorder are generally unfazed by these “accidents” which occur mostly during waking hours. Some children even try to hide their soiled underpants from their parents.

Sex: Clinical studies have shown that boys seem to have encopresis more often than girls. In most published series, approximately 80% of affected children were boys.

Symptoms Of Encopresis:

Other than the behavior of releasing waste in improper places, a child with encopresis may have additional symptoms, including:

· Loss of appetite
· Abdominal pain
· Loose, watery stools (bowel movements)
· Scratching or rubbing the anal area due to irritation from watery stools
· Decreased interest in physical activity
· Withdrawal from friends and family
· Secretive behavior associated with bowel movements.
· Most children with encopresis deny the urge to defecate associated with their soiling episodes.
· In most cases, soiling episodes occur during the daytime when the child is awake and active. Soiling at night is uncommon.
· As evidence of functional megacolon, many children with retentive encopresis intermittently pass extremely large bowel movements.

What Causes Encopresis?

The most common cause of encopresis can be attributed to a chronic (long term) constipation or the inability to release stools from the bowel. Constipation may occur due to any of the reasons including stress, not drinking enough water (dehydration makes the stools hard and difficult to pass), and pain caused by a sore in or near the anus.

As the stool builds up in the colon causing it to get stretched, the ability of the nerve endings to signal to the brain that it’s time for a bowel movement is diminished. If this condition is left untreated, not only will the soiling get worse, but the kids may also lose their appetites or complain of stomachache. A large, hard stool may also cause a tear in the skin around the anus that will leave blood on the stools, toilet paper or on the toilet. Constipation can also lead to wetting and urinary tract infections (UTI), which can also occur because the stretched colon puts pressure on the bladder.


If your child suffers from encopresis, humiliating or punishing him/her will only make matters worse. Instead, talk to your child's doctor, who can help you and your child through this challenging but treatable problem. For more details on the treatment visit this site:

And for more details about this medical condition visit this link:

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