Encopresis: The inability to control the elimination of stool. Encopresis can have a variety of causes, including inability to control the anal sphincter muscle or gastrointestinal problems, particularly chronic diarrhea and Crohn's disease. Several neurological disorders, including Tourette syndrome and obsessive-compulsive disorder, are also occasionally associated with the symptom of encopresis, particularly in children. Preventive care for encopresis includes frequent scheduled toileting and the wearing of pads or diapers to prevent embarrassing soiling. Careful cleaning is important to prevent skin breakdown. Treatment of encopresis usually involves treatment of the underlying disorder; cognitive behavioral therapy or behavior modification is also sometimes helpful. Also known as fecal incontinence.
Encopresis, also called stool holding or soiling, occurs when your child resists having bowel movements, causing impacted stool to collect in the colon and rectum. When your child's colon is full of impacted stool, liquid stool can leak around the impacted stool and out of the anus, staining your child's underwear.
Encopresis usually occurs after age 4, when your child has already learned to use a toilet. In most cases, encopresis is a symptom of chronic constipation. Less frequently, it may be the result of developmental or emotional issues.
Doctors categorize encopresis as primary or secondary. Primary encopresis happens in a child who has never been successfully toilet trained. In secondary encopresis, a child develops the condition after having been successfully toilet trained.
Encopresis can be frustrating for you — and embarrassing for your child. However, with patience and positive reinforcement, treatment for encopresis is usually successful.