Generally, the earlier that treatment begins for encopresis, the better. The first step involves clearing the colon of retained, impacted stool. After that, treatment focuses on encouraging healthy bowel movements. This includes training your child to go to the toilet as soon as reasonably able when the urge to have a bowel movement occurs.
There are several methods for clearing the colon and relieving constipation. Your child's doctor will likely recommend one or more of the following:
- Stool softeners, such as lactulose
- Colon lubricants, such as mineral oil
- Rectal suppositories
- More oral fluids
Your child's doctor may recommend abdominal X-rays to check the progress of the colon clearing.
Once the colon has been cleared, it's important to encourage your child to have regular bowel movements. In addition to recommending self-care measures, such as a high-fiber diet and drinking lots of fluids, your child's doctor may recommend the use of stool softeners for six months or more.
If your child feels shame, guilt, depression or low self-esteem related to encopresis, talk therapy (psychotherapy) can be helpful. A psychologist can help your child deal with these feelings and may also give you techniques for teaching your child not to hold stool. Ask your child's doctor for a recommendation.
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.