Fecal compaction, which is also referred to as fecal impaction, is a condition characterized by having hard and dry waste matter obstructing the colon and preventing a normal bowel movement from occurring. As a result, constipation occurs.
Symptoms of Fecal Compaction
A person experiencing compaction may present the following symptoms:
In order to test for fecal compaction, the doctor will first create a medical history detailing the symptoms the patient is experiencing. The doctor will also perform an examination of your rectum and your stomach. Through the rectal examination, the doctor can determine if a hard mass of dried waste is present in the rectum. The doctor may also perform a colonoscopy in order to further evaluate the colon and to eliminate the possibility of rectal cancer.
Causes of Fecal Compaction
Compaction can be caused by a number of conditions including:
- Failure to consume enough fiber
- Failure to drink enough fluids
- Use of pain relieving medication, antidepressants, anti-diarrhea medication, or antacids containing aluminum
- Use of methadone typically used to treat drug addiction
- Use of medications interfering with nerve and muscle function
- Excessive use of laxatives
- Undergoing extended bed rest
- Kidney disease
- Heart disease
- Conditions limiting movement, such as cerebral palsy or dementia
Treating Fecal Compaction
A number of treatment options are available for fecal compaction. One option is to have the waste manually removed by a doctor. In rare instances, this approach may require surgery to prevent the bowels from becoming blocked completely or from becoming overly stretched. If either of these conditions occurs, emergency surgery is required and a portion of the colon may need to be removed.
Natural treatment options are also available. These options include drinking plenty of water, with a minimum of eight 8-ounce glasses per day being ideal, and following a high fiber diet. Fiber can easily be added by increasing your intake of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. There are also a number of supplements available that can be sprinkled onto food to help increase overall fiber consumption.
Adding yogurt to your diet will also provide you with beneficial bacteria that will help regulate your digestive health. If you do have any kind of fecal compaction, the bacteria in yogurt will help your colon get back to optimal health. Probiotics are another great way to add beneficial bacteria to your diet.
Organic supplements are another option available for treating fecal compaction. All-natural oxygen-based supplements liquefy the waste, thus making it much easier for the colon to pass it through the body. A colon cleanse will literally clean the colon walls of any compacted fecal matter and help prevent compaction from occurring in the future.
It is also best to avoid taking medications that can cause compaction. If a particular medication appears to be causing the problem, alternative methods (e.g. increasing dietary fiber intake, drinking more water, exercising more often, etc.) may be needed to help prevent symptoms of constipation from occurring.
Regular exercise also helps provide you with constipation relief and will help your body eliminate waste once again if compaction occurs. Simple cardio exercises work the best at relieving constipation. You would be amazed at how much a walk around the block can help you.
If left untreated, even mild fecal compaction can lead to problems with bladder control, particularly in children. This is because the tightly packed waste can press against the bladder and the nerves and muscles surrounding it. Compaction can also cause internal injuries, ulceration, or even irreversibly damage rectal tissue.
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