Encopresis | Symptoms & Causes

What causes encopresis?

Encopresis is usually the result of chronic constipation, which can be easily overlooked in children. There’s often no clear cause although constipation sometimes does run in families.

Certain foods, behaviors and situations can contribute to constipation, including:

  • a “junk-food” diet that is low in fiber
  • lack of exercise
  • stress in the family, with friends or at school
  • change in bathroom routine, such as when a child starts a new school year and bathroom breaks are less frequent
  • being too busy to take time to use the bathroom
  • painful bowel movements that make the child “hold it” in order to avoid further pain

Children who have never been toilet trained and refuse to have a bowel movement on the toilet are also at risk of developing encopresis.

What are the symptoms of encopresis?

Here are some signs that your child might be constipated or have encopresis:

  • small, frequent bowel movements
  • large stools that clog the toilet
  • involuntary bowel movements or sudden urgency to go
  • feces or watery stool in the underwear of an otherwise healthy child
  • loss of appetite
  • abdominal pain