Treated Fecal Impaction

Fecal impaction is a severe form of constipation. It means you have a large amount of hard stool in your rectum that you can't pass. Although your impaction has been relieved, you may need to continue treatment at home. Your healthcare provider will tell you what to do. Follow the advice below to help avoid this problem in the future.

Fecal impaction can have many causes. Many of them are similar to the causes of constipation. They include:

  • Diet low in fiber

  • Too many dairy products and too much processed food

  • Not drinking enough liquids

  • Lack of exercise or physical activity

  • Stress, depression

  • Changes in daily routines

  • Loss of body fluids because of vomiting or diarrhea

  • Ignoring the urge to have a bowel movement or delaying until later

  • Medicines like prescription pain medicines, especially narcotics, iron supplements, antacids, certain antidepressants, and calcium supplements

  • An underlying illness

Home care

Take any medicines as directed. It is no longer thought that laxatives can cause damage to the intestines. However, some are better choices for occasional and long-term use. Talk with your healthcare provider or pharmacist if you have questions.

General care

  • Prescription pain medicines can cause constipation. If your healthcare provider prescribes pain medicines, ask whether you should also take a stool softener. Certain laxatives are specially formulated to be used by people who take pain medicine on a long-term basis.

  • A diet high in fiber with plenty of fluids helps to maintain regular, soft bowel movements. These foods are good sources of dietary fiber:

    • Cereals and breads, such as whole-grain cereal with bran, oatmeal, rolled oats, and whole-grain breads

    • Fruits, both fresh and dried, including raisins, prunes, apricots, berries, and figs

    • Fresh vegetables, especially peas, broccoli, brussels sprouts, winter squash, green beans, cauliflower, lima beans, and carrots

    • Popcorn and brown rice

  • Drink plenty of water when you increase the amount of fiber you eat.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your healthcare provider if your symptoms don't get better in the next few days, or as advised. You may need more tests or to see a specialist.

Call 911

Call 911 if any of these occur:

  • Stiff, rigid abdomen that is severely painful to touch, or when you move

  • Trouble breathing

  • Chest pain

  • Confusion

  • Fainting or loss of consciousness

  • Rapid heart rate

When to seek medical advice

Call your healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:

  • Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider

  • You still don't have normal bowel movements

  • Abdominal or back pain gets worse

  • Vomiting

  • Abdominal swelling

  • Blood in the stool, or black, tarry school

  • Weakness, dizziness, or fainting

  • Unexpected vaginal bleeding

  • Weight loss

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