Constipation is the most common gastrointestinal complaint in primary, acute, and long-term care settings in the United States. An estimated 42 million individuals in the United States have bowel issues or constipation. And an estimated 1 million have incontinence.
For people with conditions that can require a bowel care program, such as spinal cord injury, Spina Bifida, Multiple Sclerosis, and Traumatic Brain Injury, a systematic approach to bowel management is recommended to prevent further health complications and maximize quality of life.
With these conditions, and others, the product used for bowel care management must work quickly, effectively, and with little to no side effects.
What is the Difference Between a Full-Sized Enema and a Mini-Enema?
While most people have a general idea of what an enema is, there are some widespread misunderstandings about enemas and how they work.
All enemas are used to relieve constipation that occurs when a person has infrequent bowel movements or difficulty emptying the bowel fully. Enemas loosen stool in the rectum and prompt the rectal muscles to produce a bowel movement when stretching of the rectum occurs with the introduction of fluid around the stool.
Each type of enema works differently in the body, and treats different conditions. Some are better for short term use and/or medical procedures, while others are designed for ongoing bowel care and management.
One main difference between a full-sized enema and a mini-enema is, of course, the size. Full-sized enemas contain more fluid, which may be less comfortable to use.
When using any enema product, the most important thing to pay attention to is the ingredients, whether it is the appropriate enema for your particular situation, and to seek advice from a physician before deciding which type of enema is right for you.
It’s also important to understand the side-effects of ingredients found in enema products. Enemas containing bisacodyl may have less desirable side-effects, like inflammation and/or skin irritation. In looking at bowel care, constipation relief and mini-enemas in today’s guide, we will use Enemeez® products to answer a few specific questions because they are a top provider of mini-enemas and they offer a free-trial, which is perfect for individuals starting or creating a new program. Keep in mind that there are other bowel care products available and that your health care provider is the best person to help you with your situation.
What is a Mini-Enema?
A mini-enema is just what it sounds like: a smaller version of a full-sized enema. It requires substantially less liquid than a full-sized enema and still produces relief from constipation. As with full-sized enemas, it’s important to understand the ingredients found in a mini-enema and to consult a physician before deciding which mini-enema is right for you.
Can Mini-Enemas Improve a Bowel Care Program?
Mini-enemas containing docusate sodium can be a vital part of a bowel care program, in particular for people with spinal cord injury or disease and general constipation.
Along with natural bowel care that includes consuming adequate amounts of fiber, hydration, a balanced diet, and regular exercise, mini-enemas are a safe, comfortable, and predictable way to produce a bowel movement.
The Difference Between OTC and Prescription Mini-Enemas
General constipation and/or infrequent episodes of constipation can often be remedied with over-the-counter (“OTC”) laxatives. Because every laxative works differently, It’s important to familiarize yourself with the generic names of OTC laxatives, as one manufacturer may sell different types of laxatives products under the same brand name, which can cause confusion and may lead to purchasing a laxative that isn’t right for your type of constipation.
For daily use due to injury or illness, or when OTC remedies don’t work, your physician can provide you with a prescription constipation medication.
How Do Mini-Enemas Produce Bowel Movements?
The active ingredient found in products like Enemeez® mini-enemas is docusate sodium. In this example, the Enemeez® formulation functions as a stool softening hyper-osmotic laxative by drawing water into the bowel from surrounding body tissues. The docusate sodium acts as a softener by preparing the stool to readily mix with watery fluids. The increased mass of stool promotes a bowel evacuation by stimulating nerve endings in the bowel lining and initiating peristalsis. Not only does it soften and loosen the stool, but it initiates a normal replicated stimulus.
The Enemeez® mini-enema delivers 283mg of docusate sodium and functions as a stool softener hyper-osmotic laxative by drawing water into the bowel from surrounding body tissues, softening the stool and promoting a bowel movement.
Enemeez® Plus contains an additional 20mg of benzocaine, assisting in the anesthetization of the rectum and lower bowel. The formulation was developed for patients who experience hemorrhoids, fissures, or painful bowel movements. Ask your doctor if you have questions about a particular product.
Frequently Asked Questions about Mini-Enemas
How long does it take for a mini-enema to work?
Enemeez® mini-enemas are used rectally and produce quick results, typically between 2-15 minutes1, as opposed to hours or days for oral constipation medications.
How do you use a mini-enema?
To use an Enemeez® mini-enema, place a few drops of the mini-enema tube liquid contents onto the shaft prior to insertion into the rectum. For comfort, apply liquid contents or lubricant to the anus as well before inserting the mini-enema tube.
Suggested positions for rectal tube insertion include lying on your left side with your knees bent, or kneeling while lowering the head and bowing the chest forward.
With steady pressure, gently insert the tube into the rectum. Insert up to the shoulder of the tube only. Squeeze to empty the liquid content. Keep the tube squeezed until it is removed from the rectum. After the content has been emptied, remove the disposable tube and discard.
**Information provided here is specific to using Enemeez® enema products.
Do mini-enemas work for impacted stools?
Impacted stool is when a large, hard mass of stool gets stuck in the colon or rectum that you can’t push out. This problem can be very severe, and if you suspect you have an impacted stool you should consult your physician immediately. To prevent impacted stools, it is recommended that one follows a bowel care routine including appropriate fiber intake, hydration and, if needed, the use of an enema product.
Do mini-enemas hurt?
Although any rectally-inserted enema can create an odd sensation, mini-enemas are widely considered to be the most comfortable type of enema.
Are mini-enemas safe for children?
Before using any enema product on a child it is important to ask your child’s pediatrician. Evaluate labels on any enema product to be sure they are approved for children, and check on the appropriate dosage for your child.
Disclaimer: The material contained is for reference purposes only. Please consult with your doctor about your unique situation. This is not medical advice and should be considered commentary.