Encopresis is a condition that is most often found in children who have been toilet trained. While there are some conditions that can bring this on in adults it is generally more common among children.
Studies show that encopresis affects up to 2% of all children. Encopresis is defined as having repeated bowel movements in a location where it is not appropriate to do so. This can be a complex issue to treat and while treatment is being pursued it is important that parents take steps to help manage the issue. Many children can benefits from using incontinence underwear. This type of underwear will protect skin and clothes when the child has an accident. Incontinence underwear for children can be found on sites that sell adult incontinence products.
- Retentive encopresis-This is the most common form of encopresis among children. When a child has this type there is a physical problem that is occurring that is keeping the child from having a bowel movement. The child may actually wish to defecate in the toilet but be unable to due to lack of sensation, pain being experienced, or even a blockage. One of the major side effects of this condition is chronic constipation. This can be made worse by a lack of fiber, physical activity, and water.
- No-retentive encopresis-This type happens when the child simply refuses to have a bowel movement in the appropriate place. This is most often a behavioral issue rather then a physical one. Constipation is usually not a factor in this type of encopresis. In addition, the child may seem fearful or even defiant and use this type of behavior as a control mechanism.
It is crucial to determine what type of encopresis the child has since it is important that he or she is not made to feel shame or guilt over something they cannot control. Unfortunately, many times parents criticize or scold a child over the lack of toileting skills only to find out later that the problem was beyond the child’s control. The bottom line is that if your child is experiencing encopresis then a medical evaluation is called for. You should make sure that your pediatrician thoroughly examines the child to determine if there is an underlying physical problem. When a physical problem is diagnosed then the doctor and the family can move ahead to treat it and resolve both the underlying problem and the encopresis. If a physical problem is ruled out then the parents will need to address the behavioral component of encopresis. Many children with this condition have benefited from talking with a counselor and resolving issues that have brought on this behavior.