Encopresis in Children

by Sharon Hopkins


There are many people who are unaware of what is encopresis though the condition could affect anyone and be very embarrassing. Encopresis is a condition that is characterized by the soiling of the underwear by a person that is above the age of toilet training - above the age of about 4. The age is a very important aspect to keep in mind because of the fact that children below this age are usually not able to control their own bowel movements as each child will take his or her own time to get a hang of it. Encopresis in children will also usually be characterized by the presence of some amount of hard stool present in the intestines, while the loose stool will flow around and be released through the anus. Treatment for encopresis in children also needs to take into account that the children affected by it will tend to pass stool involuntarily. Studies have shown that the condition affects around 1% to 2% of all children below the age of 10; while the condition appears to be more common in the male child than it is in females. Recent surveys will account for about 80% of all affected children being boys.

One of the most common causes of encopresis in children is constipation. The constipation could easily be the result of a number of different factors that may include, but are not limited to psychological, physiological and neurological disorders. Only in some rare cases will the primary causes of encopresis in children stem from some medical condition that the child was born with. One of the biggest problems that comes with identifying the various causes of encopresis in children is the fact that the most common cause of encopresis - chronic constipation, is highly misunderstood. Most people are under the impression that constipation is simply being unable to pass stool for a few days. However, constipation is a very subjective condition. It may be normal for some people to go through phases where their body will only really need to pass stool once in a few days. The condition is also subjective to a person's age as constipated children may even pass stool as often as three times in a single day. However, one symptom to look out for when trying to identify if the child is suffering from constipation is to see if the child passes hard stool and experiences some amount of pain while doing so.

Chronic constipation is the result of the affected child getting used to holding the stool in for over a long period of time. This will then result in the stretching of the colon as the stools become increasingly large. Over a period of time, the stretching of the colon will then cause the child to slowly lose some amount of control on bowel movements, causing encopresis to develop. The initial encopresis symptoms start out by only slight leakage of stool that will gradually increase in volume over a period of time. Because of the fact that the condition will usually develop as a result of habit, the affected individual will also generally tend to experience some loss of coordination of the muscles that aid in bowel movement. Another encopresis symptom that one will need to watch out for is the fact that, given that the stool is not being excreted through the colon through the normal process, the stool will then start to smell foul and become visibly dark.

Again, when looking for the main causes of encopresis in children, it helps to look into the root cause of the condition. The constipation that develops in the individual will depend heavily on the kind of food that he or she is fed. A lack of fiber in the food has led to some experts being of the opinion that the condition is aggravated by diet, while some other experts remain firm in the opinion that any connection with the individual's diet is very unlikely. Adequate consumption of water is another very commonly touted as being a common cause for the development of encopresis in adults and children although some children are also known to not show any signs of constipation at all. As mentioned earlier, the encopresis in children symptoms are the result of involuntary actions and it is important to remember this because of the fact that a number of parents are seen to lose their patience with the child and assume that problem is just a sign of the child being lazy. A number of psychological studies show that children suffering from the condition are more likely than others to be suffering from emotional or behavioral problems than compared to others. Moreover, the same studies have also shown that a lot of the children suffering from the condition will usually not experience any urges before the stool is passed. Also, most cases of soiling are known to occur during the day, usually when the child is awake and rather active.

Because the fact that the condition is known to affect children all over the world, a number of home remedies and treatment options have been developed in various parts of the globe. All of these treatments for encopresis in children would have their own percentages of success. Most of them however, are based on roughly the same strategies. Cleaning and emptying the colon of any stool and making sure that the body is re-trained to develop certain bowel movement habits that prevent the buildup of stool and constipation would help in the treatment for encopresis. A series of enemas is usually suggested, but should only be undertaken under the advice from the treating physician. Laxatives are another very effective option because of the fact that they work by increasing the amount of water that is present in the large intestines. Biofeedback is an increasingly popular method of treatment and is primarily based on educating the child on how to best use the abdominal, sphincter and anal muscles. Despite the fact that children suffering from encopresis will rarely need the intervention of surgery, it may be used as an option in the case of treating severely chronic cases of the condition and refractory cases.


Warning: The reader of this article should exercise all precautionary measures while following instructions on the home remedies from this article. Avoid using any of these products if you are allergic to it. The responsibility lies with the reader and not with the site or the writer.
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