A fecal impaction is an enormous amount of dry, hard stool that stays immovable in the rectum. It’s commonly seen in sufferers with long-term constipation.

Constipation is if you end up not passing stool as you usually do. Your stool turns into rough and dry, and it is difficult to go.

This condition is commonly found in individuals with chronic constipation and in people had been using laxatives. Impaction is even more noticeable when the laxatives are stopped unexpectedly. The muscle mass of the intestines ignore the transfer of stool or feces on their own.

Those who are at risk for persistent constipation and fecal impaction are those who:

  • Do not move around much and spend most of their time in a chair or bed
  • Have diseases of the brain or nervous system that damage the nerves that go to the muscles of the intestines

Certain drugs slow the passage of stool through the bowels:

  • Anticholinergics
  • Narcotic pain medicines including codeine and methadone
  • Medicines used to treat diarrhea, if they are taken too frequently

Common symptoms are:

  • Abdominal cramping and bloating
  • sudden episodes of watery diarrhea or leakage of liquid in a person who has chronic constipation
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Small, semi-formed stools
  • Straining when trying to pass stools

Other possible symptoms include:

  • Bladder pressure or loss of bladder control
  • Lower back pain
  • Rapid heartbeat or light-headedness from straining to pass stool


Treating a fecal impaction means eliminating the impacted stool. Then, actions are taken to prevent future fecal impactions.

Frequently, a warm mineral oil enema is given to soften and lubricate the stool. But, enemas alone are generally not enough to get rid of a large, dry impaction. The impacted stool may have to be broken up by hand. This is called manual removal.

A health care provider will need to insert one or two fingers into the rectum and slowly break up the mass into smaller pieces so that it can come out.

This procedure should be done in small steps to avoid causing injury to the rectum.

Suppositories inserted into the rectum may be given between attempts to help clear the stool.

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