Preparing for your appointmentBy Mayo Clinic staff
You'll probably 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), or a mental health professional if your child seems to be very embarrassed, frustrated or angry because of encopresis.
Because appointments can be brief and there's often a lot of ground to cover, it's a good idea to be prepared for your child's appointment.
What you can do
- Be aware of any pre-appointment restrictions. At the time you make the appointment, be sure to ask if there's anything you need to do in advance, such as restrict your child's diet.
- Write down a list of your child's symptoms — including how long they've been occurring.
- Write down key personal information, including any major stresses or recent life changes.
- Make a list of all medications, as well as any vitamins or supplements, that your child is taking.
- Write down questions to ask your child's doctor.
Preparing a list of questions can help you make sure that you cover all of the points that are important to you. Some basic questions to ask your child's 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 types of side effects can be expected with this treatment?
- Are there any alternatives to the primary approach that you're suggesting?
- Are there any dietary changes that might help ease my child's symptoms?
- What about exercise? Would additional physical activity help my child?
- Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take home with me? What websites do you recommend visiting?
What to expect from your doctor
Your child's doctor will have questions for you, too. Being ready to answer them may reserve time to go over any points you want to spend more time on. Your doctor may ask:
- 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?
- Does your child take any medications? If so, which ones?
- 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?
What you can do in the meantime
Give your child high-fiber foods, such as fruits and vegetables, and encourage him or her to drink plenty of liquids.
- Ferry GD. Definition, clinical manifestations, and evaluation of functional fecal incontinence in children. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Sept. 29, 2010.
- Soiling (encopresis). American Academy of Pediatrics (HealthyChildren.org). http://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/emotional-problems/pages/Soiling-Encopresis.aspx. Accessed Oct. 6, 2010.
- 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/index.html. Accessed Sept. 29, 2010.
- Montgomery DF, et al. Management of constipation and encopresis in children. Journal of Pediatric Health Care. 2008;22:199.
- Nijman RJ. Diagnosis and management of urinary incontinence and functional fecal incontinence (encopresis) in children. Gastroenterology Clinics of North America. 2008;37:731.
- Hoecker JL (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Oct. 7, 2010.