By Steve Hodges, M.D.
Q: Can a child’s body become dependent on enemas for pooping? I’m afraid if we start my son on enemas, he will develop "lazy bowel."
A: Don’t worry — your child won’t become dependent on enemas. But he may well end up with more severe problems if you avoid enemas.
"Lazy bowel" is a myth. In a child with enuresis or encopresis, the bowel is already not working normally. Once the chronically clogged rectum regains the tone needed to empty fully, the child will no longer need enemas.
One of the goals for a child on the Modified O'Regan Protocol, is to poop spontaneously once a day, in addition to pooping after each enema. If the child is only pooping after enemas, this is NOT a sign of dependence on enemas. It is a sign your child’s rectum hasn’t fully recovered. Dependence is something different.
A patient with type 1 diabetes, for example, will always be dependent on insulin to live. Your child will not always rely on enemas to poop, though it may take several months to wean off them.
In the meantime, if enemas are what it takes for your child to fully evacuate every day, what’s wrong with that? Certainly, pooping with the help of an enema is a lot healthier than not pooping.