Mineral oil is a derivative of petroleum and is also known as the liquid paraffin. It is an odorless and translucent liquid which does not have any distinctive flavor or taste. It is the weird texture makes it unpalatable for more people.
After the extraction of crude oil, it is taken for the distillation process of gasoline. Mineral oil is one of the byproducts obtained during the distillation process.
How does mineral oil work for constipation?
Mineral oil works in the following way to ease constipation:
1. A thin layer of mineral oil coats the intestinal mucosa which prevents fluids from getting reabsorbed from the stools into your body. This helps with keeping the moisture of the stool intact.
2. It acts as a lubricant and makes it easier for the stool to glide within the intestinal tube.
Mineral oil is just an emollient which works by softening the hardened stool.
The process of mineral oil enema
The process of a mineral oil enema involves injecting the mineral oil into the rectum. When compared to another type of enemas, mineral oil enemas are supposed to be held for a longer duration of time, usually 30 minutes. During this time, the mineral oil coats and softens the stools before it can be evacuated.
The volume of a mineral oil enema may vary from 4 to 6 ounces, which is again very less as compared to any other enemas. After holding the enema for the stipulated time, a follow-up enema is performed to clear the softened stool. Some people may even experience a bowel movement just with the mineral enema. In that case, the amount of stools evacuated is assessed to check if a follow-up enema is required or not.
Since the mineral oil Is so thick and the volume of the oil is also very low, a rubber enema bag or stainless steel enema can is not an ideal choice for administering this type of enema. Normally, a prepackaged mineral oil enema is used for this purpose as it is fairly inexpensive. If you can’t get your hands on a prepackaged enema kit, then a rectal enema bulb filled with mineral oil can be used. Since mineral oil is a petroleum-based product, it is recommended to thoroughly clean the equipment after performing the enema.
But as it is with any other medical procedure, an enema to has certain side effects. Some of the common side effects of mineral oil enema may include:
• An altered bowel function
• An upset stomach
• Reduced capacity to absorb vitamins
• Rectal leakage
• Unwanted drug interactions