Preparing for your appointment

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) if needed or to a mental health professional if your child is distressed, very embarrassed, frustrated or angry because of encopresis.

What you can do

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 modify your child's diet. Before your appointment, make a list of:

  • Your child's symptoms, including how long they've been occurring
  • Key personal information, such as any major stresses or recent life changes
  • All medications, including over-the-counter medications and any vitamins, herbs or other supplements that your child is taking, and the doses
  • What your child eats and drinks on a typical day, including the amount and types of dairy products, types of solid foods, and the amount of water and other fluids
  • Questions to ask your child's doctor

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?
  • Would more physical activity help my child?
  • Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can have?
  • What websites do you recommend?

What to expect from your doctor

Your child's doctor will have questions for you. Be ready to answer them to reserve time to go over any points you want to focus on. Questions may include:

  • 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?
  • How often does your child have a stool?
  • Does your child take any medications?
  • 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?