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Encopresis (cont.)

Encopresis Symptoms

Most children with encopresis have experienced constipation or painful defecation in the past. In many cases, constipation or pain occurred years before the encopresis is brought to medical attention.

  • Most children with encopresis say they have do not have an urge to have a bowel movement before they soil their underwear.
  • Soiling episodes usually occur during the day, while the child is awake and active. Many school age children soil late in the afternoon after returning home from school. Soiling after the child goes to sleep at night is uncommon.
  • Some children with encopresis soil while in the bathtub, shower, or swimming pool.
  • In many children with encopresis, the colon has become stretched out of shape, and so they intermittently pass extremely large bowel movements.

When to Seek Medical Care for Encopresis

Any of the following warrants a visit to your child's primary health care professional:

  • Severe, persistent, or recurrent constipation
  • Pain when passing bowel movements
  • Reluctance to pass bowel movements, including straining to hold the stool in
  • Soiling in a child who is at least four years of age
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/19/2016
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According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Third edition (DSM-III), encopresis is defined as the "repeated involuntary passage of feces into places not appropriate for that purpose...the event must take place for at least 6 months, the chronologic and mental age of the child must be at least 4 years."

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