Enemas are usually recommended as the last resort to those suffering from constipation or sometimes before performing a diagnostic procedure such as colonoscopy. While enemas do provide relief from constipation, caution must be taken as there might be side effects. Most doctors, before recommending enemas will prescribe laxatives, suppositories or a high fiber diet to help relieve constipation.
Most of the enemas used for relieving constipation work by simply introducing the saline solution into the intestines through the rectum. The saline solution softens the dry stool and the enema nozzle loosens the rectum. The two combined together help in stimulating the bowel movement.
Almost all the enemas used for constipation are a solution of water combined with some other substance which helps in lubricating and dissolving the hardened stool. Some of the most commonly used enemas are as follows:
1. Phospho soda enema- Phosphor soda is a very strong laxative and must be used in the prescribed dosage to prevent any side effects. It is a saline type laxative and also a recommended one.
2. Saline solution enema- Saline solution enemas are more like homemade enemas which require an enema kit complete with all the required enema kit essentials. The most common type of homemade enema solution is a combination of 2-tbsp. sea salt dissolved in one-quart lukewarm distilled water.
3. Mineral oil enema- Mineral oil enemas are for people who need to minimize or avoid strain while having a bowel movement. Apart from mineral oil, liquid petroleum or castor oil can also be used for the purpose of enemas. Along with constipation, people recovering from certain surgeries or women recovering from childbirth can use mineral oil enemas for reducing the stress while passing stool. The oil coats the fecal matter and helps in retaining the moisture of the stool thus easing the movement.
4. Milk and molasses- Another homemade enema is prepared by combining milk and molasses. All you need to do is combine equal parts of milk and molasses. The amount of sugar present in this solution helps in the softening of the hardened stool and stimulates easy evacuation.
How to perform an enema?
If you are performing enema for the first time you might need instructions:
• It is better to drink 2 glass of water before performing the enema as the enema may leave you dehydrated.
• Lie down on your left side and bend your right knee.
• Apply some petroleum jelly on your anus as well as the enema tube to prevent any discomfort.
• Insert the nozzle into the rectum slowly and gently. You may experience some discomfort but nothing painful.
• After inserting the nozzle, allow the solution to flow in.
• Once all the solution has moved to your rectum and the enema bag/bucket is empty, you need to wait for the stipulated time.
• After you have waited for the stipulated time, go to the bathroom and evacuate the stool.
Common side effects of enema
Enemas often lead to dehydration and thus the overuse of enemas may lead to serious health issues. Using enemas on a regular basis for treating constipation may lead to an imbalance of electrolytes in the body, known as hyponatremia. In this condition, the blood becomes diluted and the salt content gets low. The condition may lead to muscle spasms or sometimes swelling in the brain. These are common concerns especially when you are using tap water for enemas.
There are also other common problems which may occur with regular enemas, thus it is best to consult your doctor before going for a regular enema session.