For many people, preparing for a colonoscopy is the worst part of the whole procedure. Although the colonoscopy itself isn’t what most would consider fun, it is over very quickly and performed under sedation. The preparation for the procedure, on the other hand, starts the day before the colonoscopy. It involves taking laxatives and drinking a large volume of water to empty your bowel.
While colonoscopy preparation is unlikely to be something you ever look forward to, you can make the experience easier with a little prep for your prep. Read on to learn our 10 tips for surviving colonoscopy prep.
Before You Schedule
Make sure your doctor is aware of any medical conditions you have, in case special instructions are required. It is also important that you tell your doctor about any prescription drugs, vitamins, supplements or any other over-the-counter medicines you take. For example, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications and blood thinners can increase the risk for bleeding, and patients with diabetes may need to adjust insulin dosages prior to the procedure. Your doctor will tell you if and when you need to stop taking any of your regular medications or supplements.
Read Your Prep Instructions
Read through your instructions well in advance. This will ensure that you have time to contact your doctor with any questions and to pick up your colonoscopy prep kit and other items that may make your prep more comfortable, such as wipes, soft toilet paper, and creams or ointments to relieve discomfort.
Eat the Right Foods Before Your Prep
Even though the colonoscopy prep is usually only one day, you can make the process easier if you start preparing a few days earlier. Low-fiber foods will leave your system quickly and more easily than high-fiber foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole-grains and beans. Switching to a low-fiber diet two to three days before the bowel prep can help ensure your bowel is completely empty.
Eat Smaller Meals
Because the bowel prep involves consuming only liquids, many people are tempted to feast before the famine, but eating a large meal or series of meals before your colonoscopy prep may make the process more uncomfortable. Opt for smaller meals for up to a few days before the bowel prep for the best results.
Drinking plenty of water is the key to flushing out your system and clearing out the bowel properly. Your doctor will instruct you on how much water you need to drink during the prep. Make sure to follow his or her instructions.
Getting the Prep Down
Most patients are given a liquid prep, which has a notoriously unpleasant flavor and texture. You can often purchase flavored versions that may help with the taste, or you can mix in flavorings you have at home like sports drinks or flavored drink powders, as long as they are clear. Red or purple-colored products, in particular, may stain the bowel and be mistaken for blood during your colonoscopy. Other recommendations are to chill the liquid prep before drinking it. If that’s not enough, try drinking it through a straw.
What to Eat During the Prep
Because you will need to consume only clear liquids during the actual bowel prep, the list of what you can have is pretty limited, but that doesn’t mean it has to be completely unenjoyable. Stock up on premium clear broths and clear drinks like Sprite, apple or white grape juice, and flavored sparkling waters. It’s also an excuse to eat like a kid again, with Jell-O and popsicles on the menu, too. You can still drink coffee or tea, but you’ll have to nix the creamer.
Don’t Make Any Plans
During a colon prep is not the time to be far from your bathroom. Plan to stay home with plenty of entertainment to pass the time (no pun intended).
Wear Comfortable Clothing
The last thing you want when you’re going through a colonoscopy prep is to be wearing tight or complicated clothing. You will likely feel bloated, so stretchy or loose clothing is going to be the best choice. In addition, you may find that the need to go can hit suddenly, so wear clothing on your lower half that is easy to remove.
Be Smart About Scheduling
Last but not least, think about the best time of the day and week for you when it comes to scheduling your colonoscopy. Remember, you may have to spend up to a day prepping. Plus, there is a cutoff period for consuming any liquids prior to the procedure. Many people find that taking a day off before the procedure to prepare and scheduling the colonoscopy for early in the day make the whole process shorter and more convenient.
At GastroIntestinal Specialists, A.M.C., we offer cancer screenings in addition to treating multiple conditions and diseases of the GI tract.
To schedule an appointment, call (318) 631-9121 or click here.