A fleet enema is a brand name for a saline laxative, used as an enema to help treat constipation. In any enema a device, usually an enema bag or smaller enema syringe containing liquid, is used to introduce liquid to the rectum and to differing degrees to the colon. There are several reasons for doing so, but a fleet enema is specifically used to help clear the bowel. Fleet enemas contain sodium phosphates as active ingredients. These are salts (different forms) of phosphoric acid. Sodium phosphates are also used in a range of food products and are generally considered safe for use in humans.
Saline laxatives work by holding water in your colon and preventing it from being absorbed. When they are given as an enema, as with a fleet enema, they cause a strong urge to evacuate the bowel and descending colon, and assist in this by hydrating any stools that were hard to pass.
Fleet enemas are most often used to treat constipation that has not been resolved by less invasive methods such as dietary and lifestyle changes, or fiber supplements. Although this treatment is available over the counter in many countries, it is always advisable to discuss your condition with your health care professional before taking any type of laxative.
Fleet enemas are also used in some cases to empty the bowel before a rectal examination or a surgical procedure.
In adults, the normal dosage for fleet enemas is 120mL, and in children half this amount. Children under 2 should not be given this medication unless on advice from a doctor. The enema is administered by inserting the tube into your anus while lying down on your left side, and squeezing the fleet enema bag so that the contents are introduced to your rectum. The nozzle can be removed, but you should remain lying down until you feel the urge to empty your bowel.
Because they contain phosphate salts, fleet enemas should not be used by people suffering from kidney disease, or anyone with imbalances of electrolytes or those on a low salt diet. You should consult your doctor if you have any other known health condition or unusual symptoms, to discuss whether this is the most suitable treatment for you. You should also discuss the suitability of this treatment with your doctor if you are pregnant or breast feeding.
As with any laxative, regular use can lead to dependence. Fleet enema should only be used when necessary and the directions on the product should be followed carefully.
In addition to the saline laxative, there is a mineral oil form of fleet enema. This is a lubricant laxative, which also helps you empty your bowel if you are suffering from constipation, without irritating your intestine.