What is it?

What is it?

If you are suffering from chronic constipation, there is a chance that you develop something called a faecal impaction. This means that a large, hard mass of stool builds up in the intestine. This build up is usually too hard to pass. If this is the case, you might find that you’re having very watery stools but no real bowel movement. It might also be quite difficult for you to hold the watery stools in and you might be leaking. So, what’s happening here? Well, what you can see leaking out is the watery stool that gets stuck behind the faecal impaction and is slowly seeping around the hard mass of stool blocking its way. It is often very foul-smelling and can lead you to think that you have diarrhoea when in reality the problem is the impaction. If the stool is stuck in the rectum, the rectum will get enlarged which causes the internal anal sphincter to relax. This contributes even more to the leaking of stool.

So if you have been severely constipated for a prolonged period of time, and you have taken quite a few laxatives but you’re only passing very watery stools, it is likely that you’re suffering from overflow diarrhoea. Please speak to a doctor or nurse about this, as the impaction will have to be removed.

How is overflow diarrhoea treated?

To treat your overflow diarrhoea, the impaction causing it needs to be removed. In some cases, this this can be done manually. This means that your doctor will insert a lubricated finger into the rectum to dislodge the impaction. In addition to the finger, they might use other tools such as an anoscope to remove the stool. Another way to remove the impaction is an enema, especially when it is quite close to the anus. The enema will need to be given by a healthcare professional using special tools if the impaction is further up in the digestive tract and a normal enema would not reach. If it is too high up in the digestive tract to be reached with an enema at all, your doctor might prescribe laxatives that help you pass the stool that’s blocking your digestive tract.

How can you prevent overflow diarrhoea?

The only real way to prevent overflow diarrhoea is to prevent constipation. This means, that you should always be mindful about your bowel movements and make sure that your stools are soft and easily passed. If this isn’t the case, then you might want to consider making some changes to your diet and lifestyle. Increasing the fibre in your diet, for example, will help to keep your stool soft and easily passable. Same goes for drinking lots of water. And always make sure that you sit down and go for a poo if you feel the urge – ignoring it will only make it harder in the long run.

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