So, you're nervous about your colonoscopy? Here are a few things that you should expect.
A colonoscopy is an outpatient procedure, wherein the rectum and the large intestine are checked. You do not need to stay overnight at the hospital or clinic unless your doctor needs to have additional tests done or needs you to be monitored for a short while.
A colonoscopy can be used to identify and treat some lower gastrointestinal tract disorders that involve the colon and rectum. Moreover, colonoscopy is often used for advanced diagnostics, to enable your doctor to confirm other health conditions you may be suffering from.
After the colonoscopy
During a colonoscopy, the majority of patients are put under sedatives and no pain is felt. In fact, many individuals do not remember the procedure once they wake up. You will be taken to a recovery room after the colonoscopy for the sedative to clear. Once you show signs of recovery from the sedatives, you will be discharged from the recovery room.
It is important that you go through the process with your doctor so that you can stay informed and since the procedure involves sedation, you can plan accordingly. And since you will be sedated for the whole process, it is advisable to have a loved one or a friend nearby, who can help you.
The whole process may leave you feeling weak and tired, so you are not allowed to drive until the following day. Because the colon is filled with air during the colonoscopy for viewing purposes, you may have gas and feel bloated afterward. However, such symptoms will all clear within 24 hours. The effects of the sedation should wear off once the process is complete, but it will leave you fatigued and weak. Hence, it is advisable to have a friend or loved one near at hand.
Apart from colon cancer, a colonoscopy can be used to diagnose other complications such as:
- Anemia – where a colonoscopy can be used to determine if you suffer from anemia and other similar illnesses or not.
- Alteration in bowel routines - a colonoscopy can be used to determine if there is any reason for you to suffer from alteration in bowel routines.
- Stool containing blood – colonoscopy can be used to find out why your stools contain blood and if it indicates something else more serious altogether.
- Mysterious prolonged abdominal pain – If you are suffering from mysterious prolonged abdominal pains, then a colonoscopy should help your physician identify the root problem and treat it accordingly before it becomes too serious.
- Unexplained weight loss – if you have been losing weight for over a period of time but don't know why, then a colonoscopy can set you right. The procedure would clearly indicate the reason why you are losing weight and once that is confirmed, you can move on to treatment therapy.
Certain health conditions can be treated by a colonoscopy and they include:
- Diverticula or lesion bleeding is treated by applying heat to cauterize them or administering medicine to them. By cauterizing these lesions, your physician should be able to treat your condition. This condition is treated with the help of a colonoscopy.
- Polyps are removed by the use of a device that looks like a lasso via the colonoscope. Your physician will remove the polyps via the colon and the process should not take much time.
- Constricted parts that are expanded with a balloon.
The doctor will hand you a copy of the colonoscopy report, including images, and explain to you what was discovered after your recovery. A family member will be beside you when the doctor reveals the results. In cases where an individual has an extra large polyp, a biopsy may be done for further examination. The results of the biopsy may take a week.
This is why it makes sense to go for the colonoscopy with the help of a loved one or a friend. They can give you the support you need, and furthermore, your doctor would want to discuss your current condition, the results of your colonoscopy with your family so that they will have an idea of the procedure that was carried out.
A colonoscopy lasts for at least 60 minutes and should be carried out by a doctor. To feel relaxed, you will be given some medications. The doctor will ask you to lie on the examination table on your left side. A colonoscope is used during the colonoscopy. It is a long, flexible instrument like a tube that has a diameter of half an inch. The instrument sends a picture of the large intestine to a monitor for the doctor to examine. The instrument is placed into your body via the rectum and pushed to the other side of the colon. The instrument will be providing a direct feed to the doctor who would review the images along with others. The colonoscopy is one of the most effective diagnostic tools since it can enable a physician to determine the underlying health issues rapidly.
Preparing for a colonoscopy
You should inform your doctor about any medical disorders you have before the procedure. They may include:
- Medication allergies - you need to be totally upfront to your doctor about your current medical condition, whether you have allergies and what causes them to flare-up. This may have an effect on your treatment and the sort of medications for the procedure and shortly thereafter.
- Heart disorders – inform your doctor if you have any heart disorders as well as treatments and other medications you have been using for your condition.
- Pregnancy – if you are pregnant, then you need to inform your doctor since you cannot take certain medications on account of being pregnant.
- Lung disorders – In case you have lung disorders, you need to inform your doctor about it. The treatment process can be overwhelming to some, so sharing all the right information regarding your health condition can facilitate a speedy diagnosis and treatment.
- Diabetes – If you happen to have diabetes, you need to inform your doctor. With diabetes, care needs to be taken that your sugar levels stay within normal levels during and after the process. With colonoscopy, sedatives and medications are used as part of the process, which is why you need to inform your physician regarding your condition and ensure that the medications used do not cause your diabetes to flare-up.
Before the colonoscopy, the medication for these conditions may be adjusted. You should never quit using any drugs before discussing them with your doctor first.
The doctor will recommend dietary changes in preparation for the procedure. Foods with high fiber will be eliminated or reduced several days prior to the colonoscopy. To clean the colon, you will be told to use laxatives. The doctor may suggest a diet of clear liquids one day prior to the colonoscopy. A diet rich in dietary fiber is a must and once the colonoscopy is done, you can make a few changes to your regular diet and include food items rich in dietary fiber. Dietary fiber aids in digestion and enables your body to process food efficiently while increasing the nutrient absorption rate.
After the colonoscopy, have somebody accompany you home. You should not operate machinery or drive after the procedure.
A colonoscopy is often used to determine an underlying health condition. And as for specific health issues, a colonoscopy can help determine if you are suffering from one condition or another. A colonoscopy should help provide your doctor with all the information he or she needs to help identify your condition. It is also used as a diagnostic tool since it can enable the doctor to correctly identify the root cause.
So in case you are not feeling well, perhaps you need to schedule an appointment with your doctor and get the colonoscopy done at the earliest. It is important that you avoid solid foods completely and opt for a liquid diet before the procedure.