A suppository is a small medicine filled package which is inserted into the rectum. It is filled with an over-the-counter medicine called bisacodyl or glycerin, which are characterized as stimulant laxatives.
Suppositories are mostly used for the following reasons;
- To relieve symptoms of constipation or impaction.
- To cleanse the rectum and lower intestines in preparation for an examination.
- To remove feces to prevent contamination during a surgical procedure.
The medication used in suppositories, bisacodyl and glycerin, are considered stimulant laxatives. When the suppository is inserted about an inch inside the rectum it begins to melt releasing the medication. The medication stimulates the nerve endings in the rectum and colon walls. The muscles in the colon walls will start to contract; this is known as peristalsis. It is the peristalsis action of the colon that breaks up and moves any impacted fecal matter through the intestines relieving constipation.
Insertion of suppository should be done while lying on your left side with your left knee slightly bent or straight and your right knee raised to your chest. Insert the pointed end of the suppository about one inch into your rectum using one finger. After the suppository is inserted into the rectum you should continue to lay on you side for about 15 minutes to ensure it doesn’t evacuate before it melts. Once inserted you can expect results in about 15-30 minutes. It is important to wash your hand before and after the insertion of suppository to prevent any infection.
Suppository Use Side Effects
It’s not unusual to experience some side effects after the use of suppositories. In the interest of your health it is important to report them to your doctor. They may include:
- Rectal irritation (burning or itching)
- Abdominal cramping or pain
Pre-cautions when using Suppositories
There are certain conditions under which a suppository should not be used. If you think you may be suffering from these conditions you should first consult your physician before considering a suppository.
- Intestinal blockage
- Attacks of a bowel disease (IBS, Diverticulitis, Colitis, etc…)
- Anal fissures or rectal tears
- Persistent constipation
- Allergic reactions to medicines
- Severe stomach pain
- Pregnant, trying to pregnant, or nursing
Rectal suppositories are stimulant laxatives which are okay to use as a temporary solution for relief of symptoms associated with constipation. However, repeated frequent use of suppositories can cause damage.
The insertion of anything into a rectum always comes with risks. To limit the risks of getting any perforations, fissures, or tears when using a suppository it is important to make sure that the pointed tip is inserted first. To ease the insertion you can run the suppository under warm water or use a small amount of a water based lubricant.
Long term use of stimulant laxatives can cause chronic diarrhea which can lead to low potassium levels and electrolyte imbalances. These imbalances often times lead to kidney problems.
Lastly, repeated uses of suppositories to combat constipation can make the problem worse in the long run. Suppositories only temporarily stimulate the colon walls and do not strengthen the colon. If used over long periods of time they can actually weaken the colon muscles. When those muscles are weak they lack the peristalsis action necessary to keep fecal matter moving through the colon. Suppositories should not be used for more than 5 consecutive days. If you are not finding relief from your symptoms or your constipation persists your doctor should be consulted.
Constipation is something the medical community does not focus much attention on. This is partly because the long-term solution is within your reach, and doesn’t require the help of your physician. It just takes time and effort.
Because of the way constipation makes you feel, it’s probably difficult to imagine being able to work up the energy to focus on solving your own problem. But if your want real, long-term relief, and wish to live a life full of energy and vitality – free of constipation and the woes that come with it – it’s up to you to tweak your lifestyle in order to achieve success.
Take charge of your own health and implement what has been effectively relieving constipation for thousands of years…in fact; change your lifestyle to reflect a time long before constipation even existed!
Learn more about the six steps to relieving constipation.