Healthy Living

How to Prepare for a Colonoscopy

How to Prepare for a Colonoscopy

Key Takeaways

  • Incorporate a low-residue diet few days before the colonoscopy.
  • Consume liquid foods on the day of the colonoscopy just like the previous day.
  • Staying hydrated is important for a good colonoscopy prep.

A colonoscopy is an examination that lets your health practitioner view the lining of your colon (large intestine). A thin and flexible tube known as a colonoscopy is used to thoroughly view the colon. A Colonoscopy is also applied when screening for precancerous or cancer growths inside the colon. A colonoscopy will enable the doctor find ulcers, tumors, areas of bleeding or inflammation and colon polyps. Colon cancer sometimes begins as abnormal growths called polyps, which can removed after being detected during a colonoscopy. Every year more than 50,000 Americans die from the disease. It is advisable to be tested if you are over 50 or if your doctor recommends it.  

A colonoscopy usually takes about 30 minutes to perform. As with any other medical procedure it is important to discuss the process with your doctor and clarify any doubts, worries or questions you may have.

Making Arrangements

Many people will be worried about how much time need to be taken off work. It will be comforting for most people to know that they can work up to 3:00 pm the day before the day of the scheduled colonoscopy. However, on the day of the scheduled surgery, you will need to take the entire day off. You cannot drive after the procedure so it is important to have someone with you at the time of your discharge and they can drive you home after the procedure. For the sake of your safety, make arrangements to ensure that a friend or family member can spend the rest of the day with you once your return home. You can return to work the next day after your procedure.

A few days before the colonoscopy

For the test to take place properly, it is important that the colon must be free of all solid matter.The reason is that when the colonoscope moves through your bowels the camera tip can get a clear view inside. If there is any problem area in your large intestine then it may be missed if your intestine is not cleaned out properly. Some steps need to be taken in the days or week leading up to your test. You will have to make your colon as clean as possible before the exam, which is also known as colon prep. The colon preparation can take one or two days but this depends on which plan your health practitioner recommends.

Incorporate a low-residue diet a few days before the colonoscopy. This helps limit fiber intake and other hard to digest materials to reduce production of solid waste in your rectum and colon. Eat low-residue food but avoid grains, raw fruits or dried fruit and vegetables.Also, take seeds out of your diet.

A day before the colonoscopy, avoid solid foods. Stick to clear liquids like broth, juice, black coffee, or tea.

On the day of the colonoscopy, consume liquid foods just like the previous day. Do not eat or drink anything two hours before the examination.You may also be asked to drink a special preparation solution to completely clean out your intestine. The timings that you need to drink this preparation depend on the scheduled time of your colonoscopy.

Stay hydrated

Staying hydrated is important for good colonoscopy prep. Lots of fluids are lost when the contents are being flushed out. It is very important to stay hydrated to avoid dizziness, headaches and light headed feelings.Avoid gelatin deserts and liquids that are purple or red .

Stay indoors for a successful colonoscopy prep to take place.

 Additional colonoscopy prep tips

It is uncomfortable and time consuming preparing for a colonoscopy. The following tips will help create a smoother examination.

  • Before the date make sure you understand and know how to prep for the procedure.
  • Buy the bowel prep prescribed in advance.
  • Purchase medicated wipes and Vaseline to handle diarrhea.
  • Clear you schedule.
  • Consume plenty of fluids a few hours before the procedure.
  • If the liquid prep tastes bad take juice to clear the taste from your mouth. You can place a straw at the back of your tongue when drinking the liquid prep.
  • You can eat hard candies as you take the bowel prep dose.
  • Stay near the bathroom and wear loose fitting clothes.

Remember a successful colonoscopy will happen only if all contents are emptied from the colon, to avoid polyps and lesions being missed. The colonoscopy might take longer, cause complications or another use of another procedure might be required if the colon is not emptied completely. 

Do some adjustments to your medication

Don’t forget to inform your doctor of any medications that you are taking – more so if you are diabetic, have heart problems, have high blood pressure or taking supplements or medications that have iron in them.

If you are as well consuming blood thinning medications like Coumadin (warfarin); latest anticoagulants like rivaroxaban (Xarelto) or dabigatran (Pradaxa) which help in reducing risks of stroke or blot clots.

In some cases, you may have to temporarily hold your medications or do some adjustments to your dosages.

Also inform your doctors if:

If you are allergic to any medications, including anesthetics.

If you are or think you may be pregnant

If you have had any x-ray test, like barium enema in the last four days

Following the prep tips mentioned above will tremendously in you achieving successful colonoscopy results.

What happens after the Colonoscopy?

You will be sent to the recovery room and once your sedative wears off and the medical personnel deem you fit, you can go home. This is usually in a matter of few hours. Your doctor may brief you on the procedure during this time and inform you about the appointment date and time for follow-up. As you might be woozy from the procedure you might not recall facts clearly, hence inform the person is accompanying you take down all these details. At home follow instructions given by your health care provider. The detailed information regarding your results will be provided during the follow-up appointment.