What are the symptoms of fecal impaction?

Symptoms of fecal impaction are similar to those of constipation, but are complicated when the impacted stool presses on other tissues. Solid stool and other materials can back up in the colon, while liquid stools moving past the impaction can cause diarrhea or uncontrolled leakage of stool.

Common symptoms of fecal impaction

Common symptoms of fecal impaction include:

  • Abdominal pain or cramping
  • Abdominal swelling, distension or bloating
  • Back pain
  • Blood-streaked stools
  • Change in bowel habits
  • Diarrhea (can be explosive)
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Fecal incontinence (inability to control stools)
  • Feeling of incomplete emptying of the rectum
  • Loss of bowel control
  • Small or thin, semi-formed stools

Serious symptoms that might indicate a life-threatening condition

In some cases, fecal impaction can be life threatening. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, have any of these life-threatening symptoms including:

  • Change in level of consciousness or alertness, such as passing out or unresponsiveness
  • Change in mental status or sudden behavior change, such as confusion, delirium, lethargy, hallucinations or delusions
  • Greatly reduced or no urine output
  • Inability to pass stool or gas
  • Rigidity of the abdomen
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Severe vomiting
  • Vomiting blood, major rectal bleeding, or bloody stool

What is fecal impaction?

Fecal impaction is the formation of a large mass of hard stool in the rectum. While this stool may be too large to pass, loose, watery stool may be able to get by, leading to diarrhea or leakage of fecal material.


What causes fecal impaction?

Fecal impaction is a potential complication of chronic constipation, which can be related to diet, fluid intake, medications, activity level, or conditions affecting the colon, rectum or anus.

What are the risk factors for fecal impaction?

A number of factors increase the risk of developing fecal impaction. Not all people with risk factors will get fecal impaction. Risk... Read more about fecal impactioncauses


How is fecal impaction treated?

Initial treatment of fecal impaction is aimed at relieving the impaction. Enemas may be used to soften the stool, which can be broken up manually into smaller pieces, a little at a time. Suppositories may be used between manual extractions to help empty the rectum.

Once the fecal impaction is relieved, you should turn your attention to preventing future impactions. Lifestyle chang... Read more about fecal impactiontreatments

Medical Reviewer: Cynthia Haines, MD Last Annual Review Date: Aug 2, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Digestive System

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