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
- Ferry GD. Definition, clinical manifestations, and evaluation of functional fecal incontinence in infants and children. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Aug. 5, 2013.
- Soiling (encopresis). American Academy of Pediatrics. http://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/emotional-problems/Pages/Soiling-Encopresis.aspx. Accessed Aug. 6, 2013.
- Har AF, et al. Encopresis. Pediatrics in Review. 2010;31:368.
- Ferry GD. Treatment of chronic functional constipation and fecal incontinence in infants and children. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Aug. 6, 2013.
- Coehlo DP. Encopresis: A medical and family approach. Pediatric Nursing. 2011;37:107.
- Hoecker JL (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Aug. 13, 2013.
- Granberg CF (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Aug. 20, 2013.