Laxative (Rectal Route)Drug Information provided by: Micromedex
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Rectal laxatives are used as enemas or suppositories to produce bowel movements in a short time.
There are several different types of rectal laxatives and they work in different ways. Since directions for use are different for each type, it is important to know which one you are taking. The different types of rectal laxatives include:
- Carbon dioxide-releasing
- Carbon dioxide-releasing laxatives (e.g., potassium bitartrate and sodium bicarbonate) are suppositories that encourage bowel movements by forming carbon dioxide, a gas. This gas pushes against the intestinal wall, causing contractions that move along the stool mass.
- Hyperosmotic laxatives (e.g., glycerin; sodium phosphates) draw water into the bowel from surrounding body tissues. This provides a soft stool mass and increased bowel action.
- Mineral oil coats the bowel and the stool mass with a waterproof film. This keeps moisture in the stool. The stool remains soft and its passage is made easier.
- Stimulant laxatives (e.g., bisacodyl; senna), also known as contact laxatives, act on the intestinal wall. They increase the muscle contractions that move along the stool mass.
- Stool softeners (emollients)
- Stool softeners (emollient laxatives—e.g., docusate) encourage bowel movements by helping liquids mix into the stool and prevent dry, hard stool masses. This type of laxative has been said not to cause a bowel movement but instead allows the patient to have a bowel movement without straining.
Rectal laxatives may provide relief in a number of situations such as:
- before giving birth.
- for a few days after giving birth.
- preparation for examination or surgery.
- to aid in developing normal bowel function following a period of poor eating habits or a lack of physical exercise (glycerin suppositories only).
- following surgery when straining should be avoided.
- constipation caused by other medicines.
Some of these laxatives are available only with your doctor's prescription. Others are available without a prescription; however, your doctor may have special instructions for the proper use and dose for your medical condition.