Encopresis in Kids

Encopresis in Kids 
If you are the parent of a child who has bowel movements in other places then the toilet, you know how difficult this situation can be. However, you should not assume your child is misbehaving or is too lazy to use the bathroom. Children who are over the age of 4 and have this problem fall under the condition of encopresis. This means they don’t have the same strong urge to have a bowel movement and when an accident occurs they can’t control it. 

While this problem is difficult to estimate health researchers feel this condition affects about 1-2% of kids under the age of 10. Most pediatric gastroenterologists report they see about 25% of their patients for problems with encopresis and constipation. This type of constipation is known as functional. This means there is no medical cause for it. When a person is constipated (regardless of their age) they have dry and hard stools which are difficult to pass. Many kids will “hold” their bowel movement in order to avoid the pain of passing it which only sets them up for an accident.

Parents and other caregivers need to understand that punishing a child or humiliating them for this behavior is not helpful or effective in treating it. Many children feel so badly when they have this condition they often have to see a mental health provider for additional treatment due to low self esteem.

However, many parents wonder when they should seek medical attention. Experts advise taking your child to the doctor if any of the following conditions are occurring on a regular basis-

  • Poop or liquid stool in the underwear when your child isn't ill
  • Hard poop or pain when having a BM
  • Toilet-stopping BM
  • Abdominal pain
  • Loss of appetite
It is important to understand there is treatment for this condition which can help your child regain control of their bowels and learn how to regulate them again. Your doctor may prescribe stool softeners and laxative agents to help your child get their colon cleaned out and allow it to heal. Keep in mind you should never give these on your own without medical supervision. You will be asked to schedule regular trips to the bathroom so the child can learn how and when to have a bowel movement. As this improves your doctor will reduce the use of any medications.

Parents should keep in mind this can be a lengthy process. Regression is common and parents will need to be patient as they help their child retrain their body for this normal and natural function. Over time most children respond positively to treatment and are able to move on and put an end to episodes of Encopresis.

Finally, it is important to understand diet and exercise can also help with treating Encopresis. Your child needs a well balanced diet which offers fiber that can help regulate bowel movements. In addition, regular exercise can also help with this condition. You should also make sure your child is well hydrated which can keep stool softer and easier to pass. 

Further Reading: 

Encropresis: The Types, Causes and Treatments of the Disorder

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