- Things to Know
- Symptoms & Signs
- Why Babies Cry While Pooping
- How to Relieve Baby's Gas
- Related Resources
Things to know about fecal impaction
Digestion is the process of breaking down food in the gut so that it is in easily absorbable forms. The food travels from the mouth to the food pipe, stomach, small bowel, and large bowel to be finally eliminated through the anus.
- The small bowel (small intestine) absorbs nutrients from the food. The remaining portion enters the large bowel (large intestine).
- The large intestine absorbs water and salts from the food material that has not been digested and gets rid of any leftover waste products called feces (poop or stools).
- The discharge or elimination of feces from the body is called excretion or defecation.
Sometimes, the waste becomes stuck (impacted feces) in the large intestine due to various reasons. When feces stay in the bowel for long, they form a hard and dry mass that gets stuck in the rectum (the last part of the large bowel). This is called fecal impaction.
- Once fecal impaction occurs, the intestine will not be able to remove the feces from the body through the normal contraction process.
- Hence, it's typically impossible to excrete wastes from the body, defecate, or poop with impacted feces.
Impacted feces can block the intestine, preventing the new waste/feces formed to get excreted and causing further accumulation of feces. There are several treatment options available for impacted feces.
What are the causes of fecal impaction?
The causes of constipation include the following:
- Side effects of certain medications
- Poor nutrition
- Lack of fiber in the diet
- Chronic medical conditions such as diabetes or thyroid disorders and other medical illnesses
- Problems in the digestive system
- Frequent diarrhea
- Intestinal obstruction (causes may include adhesions [fibrous bands of tissue], hernia, and tumors)
- Complications from pelvic or colorectal surgery
- continuous vomiting
- Spinal cord injury
What are the symptoms of impacted feces?
Symptoms of fecal impaction are serious and require immediate medical attention.
The signs and symptoms of impacted feces include the following:
- Encopresis or stool soiling (leakage of liquid stool)
- Abdominal pain
- Abdominal discomfort
- Feeling of fullness
- Urge but unable to defecate
- Fecal material in the vomit
- Loss of weight
- Loss of appetite
- Increased heart rate
- Rapid breathing
- Mental confusion
- Loss of bladder control
What are the complications of fecal impaction?
If not treated, fecal impaction may lead to the following complications:
What is the treatment for impacted feces?
Treatment options for impacted feces include:
- Laxatives: This is generally the first method of treatment for fecal impaction. Oral laxatives or medicated suppositories (medication placed into the rectum) can help.
- Manual removal: If laxatives don't work, the doctor may suggest removing the feces manually. The doctor would insert their gloved finger with a numbing lubricant into the rectum to remove the blockage.
- Enema: If the entire blockage can't be removed manually, the doctor may use an enema to remove the impacted feces. An enema is a small, fluid-filled bottle with a nozzle attached. The nozzle is inserted into the rectum and the bottle is squeezed, releasing the liquid into the large intestine. The fluid lubricates the intestine and moistens the feces, making it easier to dislodge. The force of the fluid also helps dislodge the feces. The doctor may also routinely perform enemas for patients undergoing certain surgeries or for those who are on prolonged bed rest.
- Water irrigation: Water irrigation involves pushing a small hose up through the rectum and into the colon. The hose is connected to a machine, and water is released through the tube. After irrigating the intestine with water, the doctor massages the abdomen, moving the waste out of the rectum through another tube.
- Treatment of the underlying cause of the fecal impaction
Prevention of fecal impaction and lifestyle modifications for healthy bowel movements
One of the main ways to prevent fecal impaction is to prevent constipation.
Ways to prevent constipation and maintain healthy bowel movements include the following:
- Drinking plenty of fluids every day to prevent dehydration
- Drinking fluids that act as natural laxatives such as prune juice, coffee, and tea
- Eating foods that are rich in fiber such as whole wheat, oats, fruits, and vegetables
- Reducing the intake of foods that are high in sugar
- Exercising regular
- Managing stress
Why is my baby crying while pooping?
The first few months with a baby are often a learning curve for parents.
Every little deviation from the normal is a cause for concern. One scare parents often face is the baby's pooping problems. Is my baby pooping enough? Why does my baby turn red and appear to strain while pooping?
The good news is that most newborn babies strain and cry, and their faces may turn red when they have a bowel movement. Newborn babies will have one or more bowel movements daily, but may skip passing stools for a day (sometimes even days). This is normal if the baby is active and gaining weight.
Breastfed babies' stools are golden yellow, soft, and slightly runny. The stools of formula-fed babies tend to be a little firmer but should not be hard or formed. It is difficult for the baby to pass stools because their abdominal muscles are weak.
Other reasons for babies crying when pooping may include the following:
- In most cases, babies cry when they poop because their digestive system is immature. Their anus remains tight, causing them to strain (although they can create pressure to push the stool out). The baby might also be constipated or have a difficult time passing a bowel movement in the position they are in.
- Some babies seem to be extra sensitive to harder poop, especially when they start with solid foods. The poop doesn't have to be very hard at all for some of the babies to cry.
- If the baby just recently started to cry and hasn't had any problems earlier, an anal tear or diaper rash could be making the bowel movement painful. Some food intolerances could also be causing problems.
- If the baby, however, has always had these problems, contact a doctor to exclude any blockage or other issues that make the pooping painful.
How can I relieve my baby’s gas?
Most newborns, particularly between the ages of one to four months, suffer from gas. This is more common in bottle-fed infants as compared to breastfed ones. Even babies on pacifiers have this issue.
A few methods to relieve gas in the baby are as follows:
- Simple home remedies for baby gas:
- A warm bath and compress work as the best natural remedy for colicky babies and offers respite from gas. Warm water helps relieve pain. Soak a towel in warm water, squeeze it, and gently rub it on the baby's abdomen.
- The gentle massaging of the abdomen can be calming and relaxing, but even more importantly, the pressure on the baby's abdomen can help expel the gas. Also, try the "colic hold" to help relieve pressure in a gassy baby. To do this hold, lay the baby across the lap on their abdomen.
- Positioning and bottles that prevent gas:
- When breastfeeding, get a good latch. When bottle-feeding, make sure the mouth is covering the nipple completely. This helps avoid the baby taking in excess air into their stomach. Always ensure that the baby's head is higher than its tummy. It will make swallowing and natural digestion easier.
- Gulping down breast milk too quickly can trap air, so introduce some short breaks into the feeding. Break the latch, pause for 10 to 15 seconds, and then resume. Take a 30-second break between breasts.
- Some bottles are specially made to minimize air bubbles and some bottles have a special vent system to eliminate negative pressure and air bubbles. Pay attention to the milk flow from the nipple. Most bottle systems have levels or numbers on the nipples to indicate the suggested age of use for each nipple.
- Try switching to a slower-flow nipple. This will help the baby suck in less gas, reducing flatulence.
- Breastfeeding diet to reduce gas:
- If breastfeeding, eating foods that the baby is sensitive to could cause the baby to be gassy. If unsure what is causing the gas, try cutting one specific food out of the diet for a week at a time to see if it helps. Some common foods that can cause the baby to be gassy include:
- Baby bicycle kicks:
- Although choosing the right bottle nipple and giving the baby's infant probiotics are good for preventing gas, making the baby do some good old-fashioned bicycle kicks can help the baby pass gas. This is also a great opportunity to bond with the baby.
- To perform this move, follow these simple steps:
- Lay the baby on a soft blanket on the floor (or activity mat).
- Sit in front of the baby and move the baby's legs as if they are peddling on a bicycle.
Subscribe to MedicineNet's General Health Newsletter
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
"Feces Impaction." Science Direct. <https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/feces-impaction>.
Top Can You Still Poop With Impacted Feces? Related Articles
How to Make Yourself Poop: 12 Remedies to Do at Home12 remedies to do at home that may help ease constipation.
Can You Poop With a Rectal Prolapse?Rectal prolapse is the sliding down of the rectum (the last part of the large bowel) from its normal position and protruding out of the body. The prolapse may involve either the superficial lining or full thickness of the rectal wall sliding down through the anus. The degree of prolapse varies depending on the extent of the protrusion.
What Is the Difference Between Fecal Impaction and Constipation?Constipation and fecal impaction are similar since fecal impaction is a severe form of constipation.
Poop Type and ColorThe different shapes and colors of your stool can tell you something about your health.
How Much Prune Juice Should I Drink to Poop?Digestive problems are one of the common health complaints. Constipation is the most common digestive problem in the United States. It is defined as the occurrence of three or fewer bowel movements that are difficult to pass in a week. The stools in constipation are dry, lumpy, and hard.
How Often Should You Poop?Pooping, otherwise known as defecation or bowel movements, is the end result of digestion. According to experts, it's normal to have bowel movements as often as 3 times a day or as infrequently as 3 times per week.
The Truth About Poop: Test Your IQEveryone does it, but no one talks about poop! What do changes in your poop mean? Take this quiz to learn about how your body functions!