Encopresis occurs when the colon becomes too full and liquid stool involuntarily leaks into the underwear.
Also known as soiling or fecal incontinence, encopresis is the repeated, involuntary leaking of stool into a child’s underwear. In most cases, encopresis occurs due to chronic (long-term) constipation. When the colon and rectum become too full of impacted stool (as in constipation), liquid stool leaks around the impact, out of the rectum and into the underwear.
Encopresis is typically diagnosed in children age 4 or older, after they’ve been toilet trained.
Chronic constipation is the typical cause of encopresis. Much less frequently, emotional issues can cause encopresis.
- Anal sphincter nerve damage
- Colonic inertia
- Fear of using a toilet
- Rectal infections/tears
Signs and symptoms of this condition are:
- Chronic bladder infections (in girls)
- Chronic constipation
- Daytime wetting (incontinence)
- Going long periods of times (usually several days) between stooling
- Large stools that clog the toilet
- Leakage of solid or liquid stool into the underwear
- Little interest in eating
- Pain in the abdomen
Test and Diagnosis
- Abdominal X-ray
- Barium enema
- Diet and lifestyle change
- Intestinal/rectum retraining
- Removing impacted stool
All treatment options should be discussed with your child's healthcare provider first.