Many people have been wondering whether it’s possible to drive home after a colonoscopy. A colonoscopy is used by a doctor or relevant specialist to test the colon for any complications. The colon is the last organ in the abdomen that comes immediately after the small intestine. It’s also known as the large intestine, and it’s directly connected to the anus. Its main function is to process waste products and prepare them for removal from the body.
A thin telescope called a colonoscope is an instrument used in this procedure. It’s inserted into the anus, and its flexibility enables it to easily pass through the colon. It can be pushed all the way up to the far end of the colon near the small intestine (caecum).
Where to go for your colonoscopy
It takes a specialist to perform a colonoscopy, and a gastroenterologist is usually the right person for the job. A gastroenterologist is a medical doctor who specializes in the gastrointestinal system and diseases that affect it. The system is also known as the GI, and it includes the stomach, small intestine, rectum, esophagus, liver, pancreas, bile ducts, rectum, and the colon. The procedure can be done with the help of a nurse.
When to have a colonoscopy
It’s advisable to have a colonoscopy regularly to keep your colon in check, but it becomes necessary when the following symptoms come into play:
- Pain in the lower abdomen
- Bleeding from the anal passage
You can also visit a doctor when you experience any other symptoms that you suspect are related to the colon. Symptoms should never be taken for granted, as they can help detect serious colon conditions, such as:
- Crohn’s disease, which causes inflammation in the colon
- Ulcerative colitis, which can also cause inflammation
- Diverticulosis, where pouches form in the colon's lining
- Colorectal cancer
- Colonic polyps
These are just a few of the conditions that can be detected through a colonoscopy. The procedure can help rule out associated risk factors and determine the cause of the condition.
Preparing for the colonoscopy
Before the procedure, you should inform the doctor about any other medical condition that may be affecting you, especially if you have high blood pressure, heart disease, or diabetes. You should also give a list of any medication that you are taking, including aspirin, blood thinners, or iron supplements. The doctor may adjust your dosage or stop the medication temporarily. The doctor should be informed about any known allergies to drugs.
You need to prepare for the colonoscopy in advance, and you can always get the instructions from your doctor before the procedure. Here are the standard instructions that you should probably keep in mind:
- The colon has to be empty, and you’ll be given a special diet a few days before the procedure. Solid foods should be avoided for at least 24 hours before the procedure. The doctor will recommend a liquid diet of juices, water, coffee, or clear soups.
- You may be given an enema to clear your bowel and empty your stomach before the procedure.
- You will be sedated, so you’ll need someone to accompany you home after the procedure.
Intravenous painkillers are administered prior to the procedure to reduce the chance of discomfort that may be felt. Sedatives given to the patient help him to sleep, so the individual usually sleeps through the procedure and does not have any recollection of it later. The patient is put on his side with his knees drawn toward the chest.
A colonoscope, which is a tube-like tool, is inserted into the rectum. Air is pumped through the tube into the colon to distend it. This enables a better view of the lining of the colon. A video camera and a light are attached at the tip of this instrument. The images taken by the camera are projected on a screen for detailed examination by the specialist. Instruments can pass through the tube to collect samples of the colon lining and also to remove any polyps that may be discovered.
After the procedure, you’ll probably take thirty minutes to recover from the effect of the sedatives. The sedatives can cloud your sense of judgment, so you should not only avoid driving, but you should refrain from operating any machinery or any other electronic device. Consumption of alcohol should also be avoided. It’s important that a friend or family member accompanies you to the facility to drive you back home and give any other required assistance.
You should avoid returning to work on the same day and should postpone important decisions until you feel fully recovered from the effects of the sedative.
You may have cramping or pass gas. You can have a normal diet after the procedure. You may have to avoid certain medication after the procedure under the advice of your doctor.
You may pass some blood in the first bowel movement after the procedure, which is normal.
In rare cases, your colon may get damaged due to the screening. As a result, you may experience infection, bleeding, and in a few cases a perforation. If you observe the below factors 48 hours after the screening, call your doctor immediately.
- Abdominal pain, if the pain becomes more intense or different than the usual pain.
- Fever (high temperature)
- Unusual and excessive bleeding from the anus
Complications of a colonoscopy may include:
- Adverse reaction to an anesthetic or sedative that was used for the procedure
- Bleeding from the site where a tissue sample was taken or other abnormal growth was removed
- A tear in the colon or rectum wall
A colonoscopy is generally safe and takes under an hour. However, it is imperative to follow all the instructions of your doctor before and after the procedure. The patient usually has no memory of what transpires on the operation table, so there is nothing that could cause fear or anxiety.
It is important to get regular colonoscopies to identify any problems that may occur. After a certain age, a doctor may recommend that you get colonoscopies regularly. Plan for a family member, friend or driver to bring you home after the procedure.