An estimated 2 million children in the United States have encopresis. When children have encopresis, this means that they cannot control their bowel movements and have poop accidents in their underwear. Sometimes people use the words “soiling” or “fecal incontinence” to mean encopresis.
Encopresis is a frustrating and difficult disorder for children and their families, and it can be hard to treat. In almost all cases, encopresis develops as a result of long-standing constipation. Most children suffering from encopresis have a history of constipation or passing very large, painful poops. In some cases, neither the child nor the parents recall the constipation since it was so long ago.
In a recent phone survey with parents of children with encopresis, ALL of the parents said they felt frustrated. When asked what information they would want to share with parents of children recently diagnosed with encopresis, their responses included:
- Remember you and your child are not alone.
- Read information, find resources, and get help as quickly as possible.
- With patience and consistency, encopresis can be resolved.
In most cases, children with encopresis do not have their accidents on purpose, out of spite, or because they are lazy. Rather, many secondary behavioral problems as a result of the encopresis. Once the encopresis is treated, many of the behavioral problems can get better. However, behavior therapy is usually not sufficient to cure the problem.