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Encopresis is a condition characterized by the leakage of feces into the child's underwear, which, in most cases, happens involuntary and without the child realizing it.
This leakage of faeces usually appears after the child has gone through a period of constipation and, therefore, the main form of treatment is to prevent the child from suffering from constipation again. For this, it may be necessary for the child to be accompanied by a child psychologist or a pediatrician, since it is very common for constipation to happen due to psychological causes, such as being afraid or ashamed to use the toilet.
Although it is more common in boys after 4 years of age, encopresis can appear at any age.In adults, the problem is usually known as fecal incontinence and affects older people more, mainly due to changes in the functioning of the muscles that form the rectum and anus. Understand better why it happens and how to treat fecal incontinence in adults.
What causes encopresis
Although it can arise from changes in the child's digestive system, most of the time, encopresis appears as a sequel to chronic constipation, which causes muscle tone and sensitivity in the anal region to be impaired. When this happens, the child may leak stools without realizing it or being able to control it.
The main causes of constipation that can result in encopresis are:
- Fear or shame about using the toilet;
- Anxiety while learning to use the toilet;
- Being going through a period of stress;
- Difficulty reaching or accessing the bathroom;
- Diet low in fiber and high in fats and carbohydrates;
- Low fluid intake;
- Anal fissure, which causes pain during bowel movement.
- Diseases that slow down the functioning of the intestine, such as hypothyroidism.
- Mental problems such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or schizophrenia.
Encopresis is considered only in children aged 4 years and over, as before this age, it is normal to have greater difficulty in controlling the urge to defecate. In addition, it is common for encopresis to be accompanied by enuresis, which is urinary incontinence during the night. Find out how long it is normal for a child to wet the bed.
How the treatment is done
Encopresis is curable, and in order to be treated it is necessary to solve its cause, being patient and helping the child to develop a habit of using the toilet regularly, in addition to making improvements in food, with fruits, vegetables and liquids, in order to prevent constipation.Find out what to do to combat constipation in children.
In a situation of constipation, the pediatrician or gastroenterologist may indicate the use of laxatives, in syrup, pills or suppositories, such as lactulose or polyethylene glycol, for example, to prevent the onset of encopresis.
Psychotherapy can also be recommended, especially when it is identified that the child has psychological obstacles that do not allow them to be comfortable using the toilet and evacuating feces.
If encopresis is caused by a disease that affects the child's digestive tract, specific treatment for the disease may be necessary and, in rarer situations, surgery to strengthen the anal sphincter region.
Consequences of encopresis
Encopresis can cause some negative consequences for the child, especially on a psychological level, such as low self-esteem, irritation or social isolation.Therefore, it is very important that, during treatment, parents offer support to the child, avoiding excessive criticism.