A rectal suppository is a kind of medication in the form of a plug or capsule, which is used to relieve symptoms of constipation or impaction (hardening of the stool). The suppository is inserted directly into the rectum. Medically, it is considered a kind of stimulant laxative.
The suppository is made so that the external coating dissolves after insertion, due to the body's heat. After it dissolves, the medicine inside gets released and absorbed into the surrounding area, providing lubrication to the stool and stimulating the urge to defecate.In addition, the act of inserting a finger into the rectum to place the suppository may itself be responsible for causing a bowel movement. Suppositories should be used only under the direction of a physician.
Like enemas, suppositories are of different kinds . They may be composed of glycerine or of bisacodyl, which has more potency. Suppositories work by irritating the nerves in the intestinal lining, which cause the muscles to contract and stimulate a bowel movement. A bowel movement results in fifteen minutes to one hour.
How to Insert a Suppository
The following steps should be followed to insert a suppository. Make sure to wash your hands thoroughly in soap and water before and after the procedure, to prevent infection. You may also use rubber or latex gloves, if desired.
Lie on your left side with your left knee slightly bent and the right knee raised to the chest. Make sure you can reach your rectum comfortably. Apply a water-based lubricant to the suppository. Insert the suppository into the rectum using your finger. Make sure to insert the pointed tip first. If you do not insert it far enough, the suppository will slide out again. Continue laying on your side for about 15 minutes to ensure that the suppository melts completely andf releases all the medicine. You should have a bowel movement in fifteen minutes to half an hour.
Side-effects of Suppositories
Suppositories may cause undesirable side-effects in some individuals. Report any of the following to a doctor immediately: dehydration, dizziness, abdominal cramping, nausea, diarrhea, rectal burning, irritation or itching.
When not to use a suppository for constipation
Individuals who have certain conditions should not use suppositories. Consult your doctor before using suppositories if you think you may be suffering from any of the following conditions: If you are pregnant or nursing; if you have appendicitis, anal fissures, intestinal blockage, allergic reactions to medicines, severe stomach pain, or bowel diseases such as diverticulitis or colitis.
Dangers of Suppositories
Suppositories should not be used regularly to treat constipation. They are meant for short-term use only as they only stimulate the walls of the colon temporarily. When used over time, suppositories could aggravate the problem by weakening the colon muscles. Long-term use of suppositories could also lead to chronic diarrhea , which in turn can cause a drop in potassium levels or electrolyte imbalances. These can cause kidney problems in some individuals.
As a general rule, do not use suppositories for more than 5 days. If the constipation persists, contact your doctor again.