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Enemas May Be Necessary In Some Cases, But They Should Be Used With Care


Updated July 09, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.


The overuse of enemas can have health consequences.

Photo © Dmitry Poliansky

Definition: An enema is the introduction of liquid, most often mineral oil, through the anus and into the large intestine. An enema may be given to treat constipation, to administer medication or barium, or as part of the procedure to empty the contents of the bowel before a test (such as colonoscopy).

Enemas are not harmless, and should be administered only on the advice of a physician. Mixing your own enema solution from tap water or other liquids is not recommended.

For inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and specifically approved for ulcerative colitis, a medication called Rowasa (which is a 5-aminosalicylic drug) may be given via an enema.

Pronunciation: EN-uh-muh

Also Known As: colonic, high colonic

Common Misspellings: enima

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