Encopresis - Chronic Constipation
Copyright 2002. by Kd. last updated 8/12/2005
last updated 8.25.05
What Is Encopresis and What to Do About It?
Encopresis is something to be aware of when there are possible intestinal health problems. It is more common than you might guess, especially in children. Encopresis can be thought of as constipation gone out of control. When the waste in the colon builds up for any number of reasons, you have constipation. If this is not relieved reasonably soon, the person can becomed impacted. An X-ray can show if there is impaction, if you want one done. At times, the solid waste builds up and causes the colon to expand to accommodate the growing mass. The colon can expand up to four times its typical size. Liquid waste may seep around the solid mass as well. This leads to streaking or staining in the underwear, smaller ‘droppings’ coming through, or what appears to be alternating constipation and diarrhea. Or constipation and a thick, pasty output. If you see any of these, consider encopresis and deal with it immediately because toxins may be stagnating in the colon and lead to even more problems.
The polluted environment in the colon may be killing off the beneficial bacteria and allowing an overgrowth of the harmful toxic bacteria. This can produce an incredibly strong smell. You may also notice strong body odor or bad breath even if the person just took a shower or recently brushed their teeth.
To treat encopresis, there are some options. If there is serious impaction, consult your medical care professional for ideas. The usual treatment suggests giving a laxative or enema to start breaking up the mass and eliminating it. Magnesium is a very natural route and works as a laxative at higher doses. Because magnesium deficiency is so common, this supplement might help with any additional magnesium needs at the same time. Some people opt to give one of the laxative products from the pharmacy or grocery store and use according to directions. Next, plan on keeping a very definite schedule of when the person goes to the bathroom to ‘try’ and see if anything comes out. The person should go to the bathroom about ten minutes after eating breakfast and dinner at least, and any other time after eating you can remember or it is convenient. The person should ‘try’ for about ten minutes long. This part is very, very essential to the program because it takes advantage of the body’s natural digestive movements, and helps the body to get back into a proper elimination pattern.
It is common enough that the person may not be able to feel when they needed to go to the bathroom. They genuinely cannot feel the sensations. This may be due to the person having sensory integration dysfunction. When the person initially does not have the sensory feedback of when he needs to go, the constipation builds up, and then the problem perpetuates. Another route is that you may become constipated first, and as the colon stretches out, the nerves are no longer close to and in rhythm with the amount of waste. Even if the mass is eliminated, the colon is so stretched out that it will not sense the build up of more waste until another massive amount accumulates. The problem again perpetuates itself. Scheduling times to ‘try’ is very important, because it does not rely on the person feeling the need to go.
Adjust the diet to favor looser stools. Include more fiber and pure water. Many people also include something like mineral oil, commercial fiber products, or magnesium on a daily basis to keep things loose.
This anti-encopresis program needs to be kept up for a good six months or more. It is very common to see good results by the third or fourth month and to give it up because the person appears to be doing well. What happens is that you may have reestablished a good elimination pattern, but the colon has not yet contracted back to its original size. Some people are also very prone to becoming constipated and the situation can recur easily. So it is good to plan on six months or more.
If bacteria overgrowth has occurred you may want to consider a probiotic supplement at least for a while until the colon is normalized again. If the person has sensory integration issues, there are exercises available that can help regain better feeling in this area.
see Sensory Integration
also more on encopresis
For additional information on stool composition:
see Studying Stools
Using a Natural Antibiotic for the Bacteria Problem with Constipation
For an 'antibiotic' for my son's chronic bacteria problem in the
colon, I used Source Naturals Colloidal Silver. It comes in tasteless
drops or a throat spray for about $10 a bottle. My son liked the
throat spray. I did one spray in the morning and one at bedtime (half
an adult dose). I did this for 10 days just like other antibiotics. I
know some people say they use it every day or every week, but I am
not comfortable using any 'antibiotic' like that.
It worked BRILLIANTLY! After years of horrendously stinky stools, the
bacteria was gone. This was 'stinky' to the point the school was
calling and saying he needed to leave the classroom because of foul
stools and foul body odor (the boy bathed every day!). The colloidal
silver was used after 5 months of many enzymes and probiotics - 9
protease enzymes and 3 Culturelle probiotics per day. The enzymes and probiotics
helped noticeably but just couldn't lick the problem. The colloidal
silver completely wiped it out. It don't know if I would have had
such dramatic success with the silver without having used the enzymes
and probiotics first, but this is just how I happened to do it. And
we were plenty thankful to have such a cheap and easy solution after
all those years.
Some people are leery of the silver as it is a metal, so consider
that. My son's bacteria was soooooo bad and sooooo long-standing, his
health was deeply suffering from the bacteria as it was, so I opted
for the silver treatment.
You might be able to use a prescription antibiotic or oreganol. Those
weren't available to me at the time. I am happy to say that many
people with a child in a similar situation have also had magnificent
success with this treatment for this problem.
Indicators of encopresis are:
- foul stools - we are talking knock-down hideous STENCH!!!
- foul body odor; bad breath - even after bathing or washing
- chronic constipation leading to massive stools (to the point they
clog the toilet, and you are standing there wondering how that
softball-sized mass physically came out of that little kid....)
- leaking or streaking of stool in underwear; raisin-size droppings
anywhere or everywhere
- not-feeling-when-you-need-to-go; also can manifest as the child
wetting without feeling it
I'll also let you know it did take a good 4 months of 'bathroom
schedule' and magnesium before my son could really feel when he
needed to go to the bathroom. So you do need to stick with the
program a good six months. When researching the encopresis treatment,
the warning was the most parents see improvement by the 3-4 month and
get lax on the treatment. And it comes right back. Sticking with the
program long enough for the colon to completely recovered was
important. My son still takes magnesium daily to keep regular. But
otherwise, he is okay. He just seems to have a sluggish, sensitive
gut. Doctor diagnosed him with IBS at 6 yrs.
If you have any questions on this, please ask. It is one of the most
common asked things I get asked about - adults having the problem as
well as kids! Adults really don't tolerate 'bathroom
problems' in older kids like they do in preschoolers.
Using Enzymes With Constipation
When starting enzymes, some people think the child becomes constipated. Please note whether it is true constipation or simply less waste passing through. This same issue came up particularly when No-Fenol enzymes were introduced. No-Fenol enzymes break down fibrous plant material (xylanases, cellulases, hemicellulases). V-Gest from Enzymedica is another product with enzymes targeting fiberous compounds. It is designed for vegetarians or those eating lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole-grains.
In animal science, No-Fenol type enzymes are given to livestock to breakdown fibrous feed so the animal can use the nutrition and energy from the food instead of it coming out the other end as manure.
Producers do this to cut down on bacteria and toxins in the animal (keeps it healthier). Helps in preventing or eliminating colon problems. Also, farmers don't want to have to shovel any more than they have to, afterall.
If you start enzymes and more of what you feed is actually used by the person, you may very well see less material being excreted. Just an option to consider. All of this is separate from the phenol/salicylate intolerance use of No-Fenol. More on No-Fenol and some references:
The No-Fenol File
Fiber with Constipation
Fiber can be very very helpful with constipation problems. Consider more fruits and vegetables, or a whole-food based fiber supplement. However, PLEASE remember that the trick with fiber is to drink water along with taking the fiber. If you just pack more stuff into your system without sufficient liquid, you just add to the waste compaction problem. Fruits and vegetables have lots of water in them. That is why extra water may not be mentioned with those. But with other fiber supplements, please remember to drink the water to keep things loose and moving through your system.