Treatments and drugsBy Mayo Clinic staff
Generally, the earlier treatment begins for encopresis, the better. The first step in treatment focuses on clearing the colon of retained, impacted stool. After that, treatment includes encouraging healthy bowel movements. This includes training your child to go to the toilet as soon as reasonably able when the urge to defecate occurs.
There are several methods for clearing the colon and relieving constipation. Your child's doctor will likely recommend one or more of the following:
- Stool softeners, such as lactulose
- Colon lubricants, such as mineral oil
- Rectal suppositories
- More oral fluids
Your child's doctor may recommend abdominal X-rays to check the progress of the colon clearing.
Once the colon has been cleared, it's important to encourage your child to have regular bowel movements. In addition to recommending self-care measures such as a high-fiber diet, your child's doctor may recommend the use of stool softeners for six months or more.
If your child feels shame, guilt, depression or low self-esteem related to encopresis, psychotherapy can be helpful. A psychologist can help your child deal with these feelings and may also give you techniques for teaching your child not to hold stool. Ask your child's doctor for a recommendation.
- 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.