Fecal engorgement (FI) is a condition of prolonged constipation . This occurs when the stool is so hard that it cannot pass through normal bowel movements. This causes abdominal discomfort and, in rare cases, can cause serious medical complications.
There are some risk factors, including a high-fat diet, immobility for long periods of time, and psychological factors, but this condition can occur for no apparent reason. FI can be treated with medications or hard stool removal procedures.
A fecal lump usually causes abdominal discomfort similar to constipation, but usually more severe and for a longer period of time. If you have FI, you are likely to experience other symptoms in addition to constipation, and the symptoms tend to be worse as you do not have a bowel movement any longer.
Symptoms of fecal congestion include:
- Abdominal cramps
- Abdominal discomfort
- Abdominal pain
- Fecal contamination
- Loss of appetite
- Back pain
- Threw up
- Bad breath
- Hemorrhoids (dilated blood vessels in the rectum)
In rare cases, an untreated fecal blockage can lead to serious health complications such as intestinal ulceration, perforation , thrombosed hemorrhoids (a blood clot in a rectal blood vessel), gastrointestinal infection, or peritonitis (infection that spreads outside of the gastrointestinal system). … …
If these complications occur, symptoms may include fever, chills, rectal bleeding, low blood pressure, heart palpitations, dizziness, or loss of consciousness.
Fecal congestion generally occurs when a person does not empty for many days. There are several common lifestyle risk factors that increase the likelihood of IF. Certain medical conditions can predispose you to the disease, and certain populations are at higher risk.
Common lifestyle risk factors for FI can include:
- Lack of fiber in the diet.
- A diet rich in fat.
- Lack of food and drink, dehydration.
- Lack of access to a bathroom due to travel or other circumstances.
- Excessive stress
- Unwillingness to empty the intestines
Medical conditions that increase the risk of IF include:
- Neurological disorders
- Long periods of physical immobility
- Inability to eat or drink
- Postoperative bowel dysfunction
- Bowel obstruction (blockage)
- Thyroid disease
- Side effects of medications
Some populations at increased risk for fecal blockage include:
- Older people living in nursing homes who have little or no physical activity.
- People with neurological conditions that can interfere with bowel movements, such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease , dementia, spinal cord injury, or stroke.
- Children, especially those who avoid bowel movements due to anxiety, embarrassment, or pain.
- People who take medications that cause a constipation side effect, such as certain antihypertensive, antidepressant, and muscle relaxant medications.
- Drug users, the category of drugs most closely associated with constipation, which can cause a condition known as narcotic bowel syndrome .
- People who abuse or abuse laxatives (stool softeners), which paradoxically can affect the colon, leaving it unable to function properly.
- People who have structural and functional conditions associated with the small intestine , colon , or rectum due to gastrointestinal disease, cancer, or surgery.
There are many causes of abdominal pain and cramps, and blockage may not be the obvious cause of your symptoms at first. Your healthcare provider will diagnose it based on your medical history, physical exam, and possibly diagnostic tests.
- Medical history : If you complain of recent constipation and decreased bowel movements, or if you have had a fecal blockage in the past, this raises the suspicion that you may have a fecal blockage.
- Physical exam : Your physical exam may reveal that you have a hard stomach, that you have pain or tenderness when your healthcare provider presses on your stomach, or that your stomach looks bloated (bloated or larger than normal).
- Imaging – Imaging tests may be done to confirm the diagnosis. A plain x-ray of the abdomen can show whether the colon is full of stool. Rigmoidoscopy is an invasive test that involves inserting a small camera into the rectum to view the inside of the colon.
Fecal blocks can be treated with medication and, in highly refractory situations, procedural intervention may be required. The best treatment depends on whether your healthcare provider has diagnosed a recent fecal blockage or a fecal blockage that has lasted for several days or longer.
Your best treatment also depends on whether there are one or more areas where they are in the colon and whether the stool is very hard or difficult to soften with medication.
The first line of treatment involves the use of laxatives , which are usually oral medications that soften hardened stools so that they disappear. If you don't take laxatives regularly, they work relatively quickly.
You can expect to have at least one, if not more, bowel movements within hours of taking the laxative and possibly for the next several days. It is best to stay where you can easily reach the bathroom. However, this may not be suitable for some older people.
Sometimes a laxative is used as a suppository, which means that it is taken in a form that is inserted into the rectum rather than by mouth. This should act faster than an oral laxative and is the preferred method if the impaction is particularly distal (bottom) in the colon.
There are also treatments that are more active to eliminate stool:
- Enema : An enema is a treatment in which fluid is injected into the rectum. Your healthcare professional or nurse can administer the liquid through the mouthpiece or they can give you instructions on how to use the enema at home. The liquid material contains ingredients that soften the stool so you can have a bowel movement.
- Water irrigation : With this method, your healthcare provider gently inserts a tube that injects water into your rectum to loosen stool, allowing you to empty your intestines.
- Manual procedure : In severe cases, it may be necessary to manually remove the blockage through a procedure. Your healthcare professional will gently locate the area or areas of fecal obstruction by feeling the outside of your abdomen and gently placing a gloved finger on your rectum to clear the obstruction.
If you or your loved one are at risk for stool, preventive measures are needed. Increasing your intake of dietary fiber and water is very beneficial.
Depending on your medical condition, your healthcare professional may recommend that you regularly use stool softeners or laxatives to prevent constipation. This decision must be carefully weighed because laxatives can make your colon less sensitive and less functional than usual.
Your healthcare provider can also change the intake of any medications that cause constipation. If you've had neurological damage or bowel surgery , bowel retraining exercises may also be recommended .
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You should tell your doctor if you feel pain due to constipation or if you are unable to have a bowel movement for several days. These problems are easier to treat in the early stages, and treatment can prevent serious complications from occurring.