Before using, the pros and cons of suppositories for children should be considered. Depending on the condition being treated, the pros of using a suppository method of treatment may vary, but may include ease of giving required dosages and no risk of the medication being thrown up by a child suffering from nausea and vomiting. Cons include the fact that suppositories are often uncomfortable for the patient to use and may result in a continued need for them in conditions such as constipation.
There are two main conditions which may warrant the use of suppositories in a child. The first and most common is constipation, which may require the use of glycerin suppositories to promote a bowel movement. Benefits of using this method when compared with others include the fact that even very young infants can safely use glycerin inserts and they are often less harsh on the body than chemical laxatives. They do not enter the bloodstream but work because the glycerin melts inside the colon and lubricates hardened stools, making them easier to pass.
One downside of laxative suppositories for children is that if they are used too frequently, children may become dependent on them. Insertion of the suppository, in addition to the glycerin melting to produce a bowel movement, also stimulates the rectal muscles. This also has a laxative effect by causing involuntary straining. Sometimes frequent stimulation in this way can create a dependency, meaning the sphincter muscles may become weakened and need artificial stimulation for every bowel movement.
Other suppositories for use in children are used for nausea and vomiting. These are used when vomiting is so severe that an oral medication will not stay down. Medication is allowed to effectively enter the body and treat the symptoms, which is important in young children because severe vomiting can lead to dehydration.
Downsides of using these types of suppositories for children include the fact that they are often uncomfortable and may result in a strong urge to have a bowel movement. This feeling generally passes once the suppository has melted, but can be very uncomfortable in the meantime. In patients who are also suffering from diarrhea, insertion may stimulate a bowel movement. Children may also feel self-conscious having a parent or physician insert the medication.
Suppositories for children should not be used unless other methods of treatment are either not available or not advised for one reason or another. Although they are not generally dangerous, using rectally inserted medications can be uncomfortable for both the parent and child. As with any medication, parents should consult a doctor or pharmacist before using suppositories. Consultation is especially advised when being used with a child under the age of two.