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Signs & symptoms of impacted bowel

Updated April 17, 2017

Bowel impaction is a type of constipation with severe pain and dangerous symptoms. if left untreated, even for a short period, bowel impaction may have severe ramifications. While a minor occurrence of these symptoms doesn't indicate bowel impaction, repeated and severe occurrences should warrant immediate medical attention.

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Being constipated in itself is not a sign of fecal impaction. If your constipation is to the extent that you can barely sit or stand, you may have a fecal impaction. Constipation that has progressed to impaction may require the use of a combination of manual evacuation and strong enemas to loosen the impacted faeces and produce a bowel movement.


Having diarrhoea can be a sign of an impacted bowel. During fecal impaction, stools become rock hard, dry and extremely difficult to eliminate. Built-up stool around, behind and in front of the impacted stool develops a liquid consistency as it tries to evacuate from the rectum. Liquid stool gives the feeling and appearance of diarrhoea, while at the same time the person may feel a full sensation as gravity pulls the impacted stool farther inside the rectum.

Bad Breath

Hardening of stool in the digestive tract gives off excessive and odoriferous gas due to the infestation of bacteria in the mouth. When gas escapes from an impacted digestive tract through either the stomach or the anal opening, it has a very foul odour. Avoid excessive use of over-the-counter and prescription remedies for stomach gas. Using pharmaceutical remedies for stomach gas during fecal impaction can worsen constipation.


Cramping in between bowel movements, along with a rumbling sensation of fullness in the lower digestive tract, may indicate an impacted bowel. Attempt to defecate after feeling the cramps and hearing the rumbling sounds. Wait five minutes. If you fail to move your bowels after five minutes, try using a quick laxative such as an enema or suppository.


Hardening of stool in the rectum can cause the digestive tract to bulge, giving the appearance of major weight gain or pregnancy. If you become bloated and can't move your bowels, try making dietary modifications to relieve constipation.


Feeling full even after a normal bowel movement indicates that fecal matter has hardened farther up the digestive tract. Resist the urge to strain in order to alleviate this feeling of fullness. Straining during a bowel movement can lead to haemorrhoids, which can be excruciatingly painful on top of an impacted bowel.

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About the Author

Charlie Bradley

Charlie Bradley has been a freelance writer since 2007. Bradley's work has been featured on various websites. He holds a certificate in personal computer repair and support from West Georgia Technical College.

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