This type of laxatives generally falls into two main categories which are enemas and suppositories and are supplied in various dosage forms.
Types of enemas and suppositories laxatives include lubricant, carbon-dioxide releasing, stimulants, hyperosmotic, and stool softeners (emollients).
They usually work in different ways, but each of them has certain ingredients to cause a bowel movement.
Generally, laxatives stimulate the muscles in the intestines in such a way that they contract and move stool out of the body. In some cases, a laxative may work to soften the stool. This makes it easier for the patient to move the bowel.
Brand names for laxatives sold in the US are Fleet Bisacodyl, Enemeez Plus Mini Enema, Dulcolax, Colace, Fleet Babylax, Sani-Supp, The Magic Bullet, Fleet Glycerin, Dulcolax Bowel Cleansing Kit, Enemeez Mini Enema, and Fleet Mineral Oil.
Some of these laxatives are available with or without a prescription. Patients are required to follow special directions for using them even if they buy them over-the-counter.
Laxatives may cause certain expected side effects. Unwanted side effects may also occur and may or may not need medical attention.
Speak with your doctor as soon as possible if you develop the following side effects while using any of these laxatives:
Less commonly occuring:
Some side effects occur that may not require medical care. They can be managed by the patient and may eventually go away on their own.
The following side effects may not need medical attention. If it occurs but gets worse, bothersome or does not go away, tell your doctor.
Although extremely rare, an enema may cause an embolism (or blockage) to form if excess liquid or solution is released into the rectum. Embolisms that occur in the lungs may cause death.
Some patients may experience other side effects not listed here. You should talk with your doctor or healthcare professional if you notice other side effects that bother you or do not go away.
Check with your doctor or healthcare professional if you have questions about the use of laxatives. You can also ask them about ways to reduce or prevent side effects.
You may report side effects to the FDA by calling 1-800-FDA-1088.
If this medicine was prescribed, your doctor will tell you your dosage. Dosage information will also be on the prescription label of the product packet.
The number of suppositories or the amount of enema solution you should use will depend on the strength of the medicine.
Enema or rectal solution treatment at home
An enema treatment is a liquid solution containing a stool softener. It is used to stimulate the intestinal muscles and push stool out of the rectum. It is typically used as a last resort for treating severe constipation.
If you are taking the enema treatment at home, the following may help you to prepare and use your medicine safely and effectively.
You should carefully read the patient information leaflet that comes with the medicine in addition to the directions on the prescription label.
Your doctor or pharmacist may also give you special instructions for using the enema. Stick to the instructions given to you, as the following is only a general guide:
After all the solution is emptied into the colon via the rectum, you should have a bowel movement within a certain time. Timeframes are based on the type of enema treatment used.
Call your doctor if you do not have a bowel movement within the approximate time.
Results timeframe for the following enema treatments are as follow:
Suppository treatment at home
To insert suppository:
Sometimes the suppository gets soft and will not insert as it should. If this is the case, place it into the refrigerator and let it stand for about 30 minutes. This will harden it.
Another option is to run/pour cold water over it before you remove it from the wrapper. Once the suppository is moist and ready to insert, do the following:
It is important to slide the suppository in far enough (about 1-inch inwards for adults) to prevent it from slipping out of the rectum.
Results timeframe for suppository treatments are as follow:
If your laxative is bought over the counter, the patient information leaflet may caution you on the use of certain foods, alcohol or tobacco. For prescription laxatives, your doctor or pharmacist may give you special instructions on these.
It may not be safe to use other types of laxatives, blood thinners, castor oil, antibiotics, mineral oil, or medications for bone or heart condition with rectal stimulant laxatives.
Some laxatives may prevent or reduce the absorption of nutrients or medicines by your body.
The presence of other medical problems may affect or be affected by the use of any of the laxatives discussed in this guide. Tell your doctor about any medical problem you may have, especially the following:
If you have the following condition, using laxatives may cause other problems.
Seek immediate medical attention if you have the following:
Keep the medicine away from heat, moisture, and direct light. Keep from freezing.
Keep out of the reach of children.
Throw away medicine that is expired or no longer needed.
The use of rectal laxatives, such as enemas or suppositories, may be a safe and effective way to soften stool or stimulate the intestines to produce a bowel movement.
While this is the case, certain people should not use these laxatives. They include children under the age of 6 who may be treated with such laxatives only if their doctor prescribes one.
While rectal suppositories may be safer to use, enemas may provide greater results especially in severe cases of constipation or lack of bowel movement.
However, there may be a higher risk of damage to the tissues, muscles, or nerves of the intestines, bowels or rectum if enemas are not administered safely. Other complications such as rectal bleeding may also occur from the use of enemas.
Patients should ensure they use a laxative that is most suitable for them based on the level of need for a bowel movement and their present health condition.
Speaking with their doctor before taking these types of rectal laxatives may reduce the chance of side effects and related complications.
Patients are required to carefully follow all directions given, whether their laxative is by prescription or over-the-counter. This helps prevent rectal injury and reduce interactions with other medicines or medical conditions present in patients.