Preparing for your appointment

By Mayo Clinic Staff

You'll likely first bring up your concerns with your child's doctor. He or she may refer you to a doctor who specializes in digestive disorders in children (pediatric gastroenterologist) or a mental health provider if your child seems to be very embarrassed, frustrated or angry because of encopresis.

What you can do

Because appointments can be brief and there's often a lot of ground to cover, it's a good idea to be prepared for your child's appointment.

  • Ask if there's anything you need to do in advance, such as restrict your child's diet.
  • Make a list of your child's symptoms, including how long they've been occurring.
  • Include notes on key personal information, such as any major stresses or recent life changes.
  • Make a list of all medications, as well as any vitamins or other supplements that your child is taking, or bring them with you.
  • List what your child eats and drinks on a typical day, including the amount and types of dairy products, type of solid foods and the amount of water and other fluids consumed.
  • Prepare questions to ask your child's doctor.

For encopresis, some basic questions to ask the doctor include:

  • What's the most likely cause of my child's symptoms?
  • Are there other possible causes for these symptoms?
  • What kinds of tests does my child need? Do these tests require any special preparation?
  • How long might this problem last?
  • What treatments are available, and which do you recommend?
  • What side effects can be expected with this treatment?
  • Are there alternatives to the primary approach that you're suggesting?
  • Are there any dietary changes that might help ease my child's symptoms?
  • Would additional physical activity help my child? What about exercise routines?
  • Are there any brochures that I can have? What websites do you recommend?

What to expect from your doctor

Your child's doctor will have questions for you, too, such as:

  • How long has your child been toilet trained?
  • Did your child experience any problems with toilet training?
  • Does your child have hard, dry stools that sometimes clog the toilet?
  • Does your child take any medications? If so, which ones?
  • Does your child regularly resist the urge to use the toilet?
  • Does your child experience painful bowel movements?
  • How often do you notice stains or fecal matter in your child's underwear?
  • Have there been any significant changes in your child's life? For instance, has he or she started a new school, moved to a new town, or experienced a death or divorce in the family?
  • Is your child embarrassed or depressed by this condition?
  • How have you been managing this issue?
  • If your child has siblings, how was their toilet training experience?

What you can do in the meantime

Give your child high-fiber foods, such as fruits and vegetables, and encourage him or her to drink plenty of liquids. Avoid an excess of dairy products.

Jan. 02, 2014