Enema Administration Overview

An enema administration is a technique used to stimulate stool evacuation. It is a liquid treatment most commonly used to help relieve severe constipation. The process helps push waste out of the rectum when you cannot do so on your own. Enemas are available for purchase at pharmacies for home use, but you should ask a doctor or nurse for specific instructions to avoid injury. Other types of enemas are administered to clean out the colon to better detect colon cancer and polyps. Any concerns or worsening symptoms after enema administration should be followed up with a doctor right away.

What Is an Enema Administration Used for?

Constipation is a common gastrointestinal condition. It occurs when the colon is unable to release waste through the rectum. Patients with this condition have three or less bowel movements over a seven-day period. (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases). Mild constipation often occurs when you don’t eat enough fiber or drink little water on a regular basis. Daily exercise also helps to prevent constipation.

An enema administration is most commonly used to clean the lower bowel. However, this is normally the last resort for treatment of constipation. If diet and exercise are not enough to help keep you regular, your doctor might recommend a laxative before trying an enema. In some cases, laxatives are used the night before an enema administration to help encourage waste flow.

Enemas may also be used before medical examinations of the colon. Your doctor may order an enema prior to an x-ray of the colon to detect polyps so that he can get a clearer picture. This procedure may also be administered prior to a colonoscopy.

How an Enema is Administered

Medical Office

If you are unfamiliar with enemas, you should consider having a medical professional administer one for you. They can also offer instructions for home kits available over the counter at pharmacies. Check with a doctor before use.

Some types of enemas are exclusively administered at medical offices. A barium enema, for example, uses a liquid compound that highlights certain areas of the gastrointestinal tract. This increases the amount of the tract your doctor can see during an exam. Barium enemas are not used to treat constipation.

Home Administration

Enemas can be administered in the comfort of your own home. This can be less expensive, but you should obtain detailed instructions from your doctor before starting the procedure. Due to the delicate nature of the procedure, a loved one should help. Enemas utilize a solution of salt water that is placed into a bag on one side of the tube. The other portion is lubed and placed directly into the rectum. In order for the solution to reach the colon properly, hug your knees to your chest while lying on your stomach or on your side.

Enema Administration Results

Once all of the solution is emptied into the colon, a bowel movement is expected within the hour. If you fail to expel any waste, call your doctor. You may be ordered to perform the procedure at a later time. Successful administrations result in the expulsion of waste from the rectum.

Potential Risks of Enema Administration | Risks

When conducted properly following a doctor’s instructions, enema administrations are generally considered safe. A barium enema can cause waste to take on a white color for a few days after administration. This is the normal effect of barium and should clear up on its own. If you fail to produce waste, talk to your doctor about ways to loosen your stools.

Forcing an enema into the rectum can cause irritation and damage to surrounding tissue. Never force the tube into the rectum. If problems persist, try administration at a later time or call your doctor. Blood that is present in the stool after the enema may indicate rectal damage or an underlying medical problem. Consult with a physician immediately regarding any rectal bleeding.

Your risks for enema related complications are greater if you administer the tubes multiple times a day. The best course of action is to use the enema once a day, and around the same time every day as directed by a doctor (Children’s Hospital Colorado). This not only reduces side effects, but will also help to train your body to release waste regularly. If constipation continues for more than a few days, call your physician.