Doctors in Australia have intervened after a man became so constipated his fecal matter gave him paralysis in one of his legs.
A 53-year-old took himself to the emergency room with abdominal pain that had been building for three days, swelling and nausea. More alarmingly, he was experiencing pain in his right leg, which he was unable to move for the past 24 hours. The leg had no palpable pulse and was cold to the touch, the doctors write in the BMJ Case Report.
His medical history revealed no drug taking, no risk of vascular disease and no significant medical history to speak of. It turns out he just really, really needed to poop. (Oh yeah, turns out you’ve probably been doing it wrong your whole life)
A rectal examination revealed that the man had impacted stools. A scan of his abdomen revealed he was suffering from massive fecal compaction and potentially life-threatening abdominal compartment syndrome (increased pressure in the abdomen).
The scan revealed his fecal matter had become so backed up, it had distended his large intestine and put pressure on his right iliac artery. This pressure caused the pain in his leg, as well as the paralysis.
Due to the seriousness of his case (he was also showing signs of renal impairment and metabolic acidosis – where the kidneys stop removing as much acid from the body) he was taken to surgery right away to remove the backlog of fecal matter and relieve his abdominal pressure.
“Significant faecal disimpaction was performed manually under general anaesthesia with approximately 2 Liters of faeces removed,” the team write in the case report. Yes, that means what you think it means.
After the huge amount of feces was removed, he was given constipation relief. Four days later he was able to leave the intensive care unit, though it took him another 13 days before he was able to walk again.
The doctors were unsure of the cause of his build-up.
Constipation on this scale can be incredibly dangerous. In 2015 a teenage girl with a phobia of toilets died after holding in a bowel movement for eight weeks. The build-up led to her chest cavity becoming compressed and eventually she died of a heart attack.
So if you are having trouble you should contact your physician, and under no circumstances should you hold it in.