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How to Make Colonoscopy Prep Easier: 6 Proven Colonoscopy Prep Tips

Anyone who’s been through this screening likely agrees that prep for colonoscopy is more torturous than the procedure itself. Although it’s normal to feel anxious, you can relieve some stress by trying the six colonoscopy prep tips below.

If you’ve experienced chronic intestinal problems and have been treated without success, your doctor may recommend a colonoscopy. It’s a medical procedure which involves inserting a colonoscope to examine the inside of your rectum and colon. It identifies irritated tissue, swollen areas, polyps, and ulcers, and determines your chance of developing colorectal cancer. 

A colonoscopy is actually the most accurate type of cancer screening test. Your doctor is able to locate the exact source of any rectal bleeding, chronic diarrhea, abdominal pain, or other intestinal issues. This results in more effective treatment of your condition.

The good news? Most patients only need to do this test once every 10 years. The most common signs that you might require a colonoscopy include:

People who are 50 or older, or who have a family history of colon cancer, should also consider colonoscopy screening.

To get a clear picture of your intestines and improve visibility of polyps and other irritations, your colon must be completely free of stool. This requires several days of bowel prep, which often includes laxatives in a combination of pills, liquids, or powders. A change in diet before colonoscopy will also be necessary. 

Ask your doctor to review all at-home prep instructions, including what to eat before a colonoscopy. This includes clear liquid diet foods, like broths or sports drinks, for one to three days prior to the procedure. You’ll also be instructed to drink large amounts of liquid laxative the night before or the morning of your colonoscopy. 

In some cases, your doctor might recommend an enema to completely flush your colon. It’s extremely important to complete all the steps in preparing for a colonoscopy to prevent the possibility of having to repeat the procedure.

Worrying about your colonoscopy is totally natural, especially if you’ve never had one before. Follow these six steps on how to make colonoscopy prep easier to minimize discomfort.

  1. Read the instructions: Go over the colonoscopy prep instructions at least a week before the actual test. This allows you to rearrange your schedule and stay at home on prep day. Based on your specific pre-colonoscopy diet, you’ll probably have to purchase medications, clear liquids, ice pops, gelatin, and hard candy. Along with soft toilet paper, wipes, and creams/ointments for irritation, these items will come in handy both before and after your screening. Note that it usually takes several days for your stomach to readjust to regular foods.
  2. Choose the right laxative: Colonoscopy laxatives come in several different flavors, forms, and even liquid volumes. Plan ahead during your colonoscopy prep so you can choose the one that tastes best. Also, if you have any underlying health issues, your doctor can let you know what works with your current medications.
  3. Refrigerate your laxative: One of the most popular colonoscopy prep drink tips is to chill the castor oil for at least an hour to make it more palatable. Drink it with a straw to help it go down easier. If your doctor suggests an unflavored laxative, ask if you can add in a flavored drink packet. Just remember to stay away from red or purple dyes when preparing for colonoscopy, as they produce false test results. 
  4. Avoid fiber: A high-fiber diet ordinarily regulates bowel movements, lowers cholesterol, and provides a wealth of other benefits. However, you’ll want to switch to a low-fiber diet for colonoscopy. Cut back on beans, whole grains, raw fruits/vegetables, and nuts, which leave a residue in your colon and make it hard to see polyps. Steer clear of these foods for at least two to three days beforehand. Other clear liquid diet ideas include broths, unflavored gelatin, and plenty of water. Coffee without milk or cream and tea with caffeine are also wise choices for a clear liquid diet for colonoscopy. 
  5. Stay at home: Since you’ll be drinking large amounts of colonoscopy prep drink, it’s best to remain at home or close to a bathroom during your colonoscopy prep. Bowel movements happen suddenly and without warning. Wear loose clothing that’s easily removed and won’t pinch or bind your stomach. Pass the time watching TV, reading, or playing games on your phone.
  6. Talk to an expert: Share with your doctor any concerns you may have about the procedure or prep instructions. Consider asking, "How many hours before a colonoscopy should you stop eating?" and "What can you eat before a colonoscopy?" They’ll be able to outline the best preparation for colonoscopy, alleviate any worries, and show you how to get through it with minimal discomfort. Lastly, don’t hesitate to reach out the day before for last-minute questions about how to prepare for a colonoscopy. 

Once you’ve arrived at the facility and change into a hospital gown, a medical professional will administer a sedative for relaxation and pain relief.

During the procedure, you’ll lie on your side or back while your doctor inserts a colonoscope into your large intestines. It will advance along the length of your intestines, allowing them to examine the lining while slowly withdrawing the scope. 

Once you’ve arrived at the facility and change into a hospital gown, a medical professional will administer a sedative for relaxation and pain relief.

The colonoscopy itself lasts between 30 minutes and an hour, but it can take a total of two to three hours from arrival to recovery. Remember to arrange for someone to drive you home.

In some cases, your doctor might not be able to pass the colonoscope through the entire length of your colon. If this occurs, you may receive instructions or recommendations for additional testing.

After arriving home, you’ll likely feel bloated and gassy. Knowing what to eat after colonoscopy is just as important as knowing what to eat before colonoscopy. Try peppermint tea or other warm liquids to alleviate discomfort. Within a few days, you can start eating regular foods again, and sticking to recommendations on what to eat after a colonoscopy should prevent any issues. Avoid fatty, greasy foods or anything overly spicy, which can create an upset stomach.

By following this advice on how to make colonoscopy prep easier and adhering to a colonoscopy prep diet, you’ll help streamline a normally complex process.

https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diagnostic-tests/colonoscopy

https://www.asge.org/home/for-patients/patient-information/understanding-colonoscopy

https://www.cancer.net/cancer-types/colorectal-cancer/symptoms-and-signs

https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/colonoscopy/about/pac-20393569

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