Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Infrequent Bowel Movements Enemas

Enemas are normally used to prepare patients for surgery, child delivery, and X-ray examination. But occasionally they are used in cases of constipation. An enema works in two to fifteen minutes. One of the most commonly used is Fleet Enema, which contains sodium phosphate. Mineral oil is another option, as well as a home-made salt water enema.

Enemas must be given carefully, since a misdirected or inadequately lubricated nozzle could damage the anal canal. Most commercial enemas contain phosphate compounds. Overuse in children may lead to toxic levels of phosphorus in the blood. Children should use no more than 1 ounce per 20 pounds of body weight. Pediatric Fleet enemas contain 2.25 ounces, while an adult Fleet contains 4.5 ounces.

Instructions for giving a Fleet enema:

  • Assume a comfortable position, either on the left side with the knees bent. Adults may bend forward at the waist, resting the arms on a firm surface such as a bathroom counter top.
  • Remove the protective shield from the enema tip.
  • Gently insert the enema tip into the anus. K-Y jelly may be used for lubrication. Slight bearing down as if having a bowel movement may help. Do not force the enema tip as this may cause injury.
  • Gently squeeze the bottle until the liquid has entered the rectum.
  • Remove the enema tip.
  • Retain the enema as instructed or for 10-15 minutes if possible.
  • Drink fluids to avoid dehydration.

Continue to Infrequent Bowel Movements Fiber

Last Updated: Dec 8, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Infrequent Bowel Movements References
  1. Bleser S, Brunton S, Carmichael B, Olden K, Rasch R, Steege J. Management of chronic constipation: recommendations from a consensus panel. J Fam Pract. 2005 Aug;54(8):691-8. [16061057]
  2. Brandt LJ, Prather CM, Quigley EM, Schiller LR, Schoenfeld P, Talley NJ. Systematic review on the management of chronic constipation in North America. Am J Gastroenterol. 2005;100 Suppl 1:S5-S21. [16008641]
  3. Clayden G, Keshtgar AS. Management of childhood constipation. Postgrad Med J. 2003 Nov;79(937):616-21. [14654570]
  4. Lembo A, Camilleri M. Chronic constipation. N Engl J Med. 2003 Oct 2;349(14):1360-8. [14523145]
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