Many people need to use enemas in order to relieve constipation. They consist of liquid, usually water with additives, introduced through a nozzle into the rectum. Enemas use has been replaced in most professional health care settings with oral laxatives or laxative suppositories. However, they are still a choice for in-home use for constipation and alternative health purposes.
An enema may be purchased from a drug store or an online medical supplies store such as VitalityMedical.com. When choosing an emema a prepackaged disposable enema may be your best bet, as recommended by your doctor, particularly if it is to be self-administered. You will need to be in a comfortable place where you can lie on your side for several minutes. Make sure the nozzle or tip of the enema is lubricated to make insertion easier and painless. Insert the tip gently into your anus and squeeze the bag containing the enema liquid into the rectum. Once the container is empty, gently remove the nozzle.
You should then wait the recommended time before evacuating your bowels, which could be anything from 2 to 15 minutes. Typical waiting times for various enema preparations are: bisacodyl, 15 minutes to 1 hour; docusate, 2 to 5 minutes; glycerin 15 minutes to 1 hour; mineral oil, 2 to 15 minutes; senna, 30 minutes to 2 hours and sodium, 2 to 5 minutes. It may take up to an hour to complete evacuating your bowels, so keep close to a toilet.
A more specialized use of enemas is for cleansing the lower bowel before a colonoscopy or for administration of drugs into the bloodstream in situations where it is impossible to give medications by mouth. Some medicines for cancer, inflammatory bowel disease and arthritis can be given this way to avoid the digestive tract. Occasionally anesthetics are given rectally to avoid vomiting during and after surgical procedures. A barium enema is given in radiology to have contrast in imaging of the bowel. Finally an Enema may also be given for hydration purposes.
Dehydration in a child can pose serious health risks and particularly small babies need fluids administered by an enema if they can’t drink fluids. Know the signs of dehydration and call a doctor if suspected. A child sized enema is a simple bulb which may be filled with warm water. Lay the child on his left side with his right knee brought up to his chest. Insert the lubricated tip gently into the anus and slowly squeeze the bulb, expelling the water into the rectum. Hold the child’s buttocks together to hold the water in. A severely dehydrated child could absorb most of the water and you should consult a doctor about repeating the procedure and follow his directions precisely.