Let’s be honest: you probably aren’t reading an article like this out of pleasure. If you’re reading what to do if you or a loved one have poop stuck halfway out, well, you can fill in the rest. The less said, the better.
Still, it’s a pretty embarrassing, disgusting, and desperate situation to be in (to say the least), so let’s get down to how you can flush this foul state of affairs once and for all.
What Causes Fecal Impaction?
If you are worried about fecal impaction (the fancy and less crude way of saying that poop is stuck in or halfway out your rectum) it’s important to note that it doesn’t “just happen.” It’s also important to note that it’s not something to bear in silence. Embarrassing though it is to admit to someone, having poop stuck in your rectum could prove quite serious and, if untreated, even potentially fatal.
However, things need not get that far, as long as you get medical treatment. Tell your doctor if you have poop stuck along with bloating, diarrhea around the blockage, abdominal pain, bloody or thin stool, and gastrointestinal issues such as irritable bowel syndrome. Also report conditions such as Parkinson’s, Hirschsprung’s disease, hypothyroidism, and nerve injuries. Lifestyle and dietary habits such as not exercising and low-fiber diets can be trouble as well.
Fecal impaction can also arise as a complication of pregnancy. In these cases, fecal impaction is typically due to changing hormones. More progesterone can relax your muscles and thus cause stool to pass through your intestines more slowly. In addition, not drinking enough water, not eating enough fiber, or being less active as a result of your pregnancy can all lead to poop stoppage.
Another contributing factor that sometimes gets mistaken for poop being stuck is constipation. In fact, while it can contribute to the aforementioned process of fecal impaction, it’s not the same.
What’s more, it doesn’t just mean having a hard time going, as is the common vernacular use of the term. In proper medical usage, it means not going more than a couple times a week or having trouble going overall.
Hard and dry stool, straining to go, and feeling as though you haven’t fully emptied your bowels are all potential symptoms of constipation. It’s important to note that constipation can be infrequent or chronic but isn’t usually an emergency (unpleasant as it can be). However, constipation coupled with impaction could indicate serious conditions, such as colon or rectal cancer.
What About Babies?
If you have a baby, you know that their poop can be especially unpleasant and rancid-smelling, and that’s when it’s “normal.” Babies have a reputation for excreting odious soft stool. If their stool is a bit firmer, however, they too can suffer through the unfortunate experience of having poop stuck halfway out their rectum. This can set them off crying and, well, wouldn’t you?
But why does this happen with babies? Well, remember that babies are just getting used to solid foods. Their digestive systems are used to handling (and passing) milk from their mothers or a formula. When it has to handle solid food for the first time, it can be a shock to the system. If it’s not quite ready to handle it, the poop can get stuck.
Diagnosi-ng Fecal Impaction
When you go see a doctor about poop stuck up your rectum, they’ll ask you a series of questions and feel your abdomen. They will also likely perform a rectal examination, which can involve them probing the area with a gloved finger to check the mass and nature of the impacted stool. In addition, they may also order blood work and a CT scan to get the full scope of things.
Speaking of “scopes,” your doctor may order a colonoscopy as well to determine what has caused the blockage, to make sure that all of it is removed (once they have done so), and to check if this is part of a larger problem such as colon cancer.
Thankfully, as long as a fecal impaction is treated quickly, it usually won’t lead to bigger problems, making a colonoscopy all the more important.
Take this seriously. Colon cancer is a major issue, killing 16,000 every year in the UK, while in the US, the death toll rises to nearly 53,000. It’s the second-biggest killing cancer in both countries. If you are over 50, you may be at elevated risk for colon cancer. If you are over 40 and especially if you are over 50 and haven’t had a colonoscopy, please consider doing so.
If the source of your bowel troubles and fecal impaction isn’t as serious as colon cancer or another intestinal issue, you may be able to “flush it out” with the help of a home remedy.
The one thing you absolutely should not do, however, is try to physically remove the blockage yourself. Not only is that disgusting, but if the blockage is severe enough to be “stuck in something” or is really seriously lodged up there, trying to move it yourself could result in further damage.
However, if the blockage is mild enough (or you’re lucky), you may be able to get rid of it with a change in diet. More fiber and natural laxatives such as prune juice, coffee, fruits, veggies, and tea may help. However, whether you flush the blockage out or not, you should still see a doctor to ensure that any underlying cause is properly treated.
After your doctor has examined the blockage, they may prescribe some treatments for you. These can include suppositories, enemas, stool softeners, and laxatives. All of these are available over the counter. That said, you’ll want to take care to only get the exact medications prescribed by your doctor. You should not take any one treatment for more than two weeks, as doing so can make things worse.
If you suffer from chronic constipation, your doctor may recommend prescription enemas, suppositories, or other medication to help regulate your bowel activity so as to prevent major blockages. As alluded to above, they may also recommend a colonoscopy. If the blockage is serious enough or you have an underlying issue, you may need surgery to fully resolve things.
For as embarrassing as reporting the issue to someone may be, a bowel blockage arising from poop stuck halfway out your rectum is something that you need to have treated as soon as possible. If you have an underlying digestive or gastrointestinal condition, the sooner it’s treated (and thus the sooner you have a colonoscopy to get the answers you need), the better. Talk to your doctor and get the help you need today.