If you’re like most people, it’s not the colonoscopy you dread as much as the day of preparation beforehand. Drinking large amounts of foul-tasting laxatives and spending hours in the bathroom is enough to make anyone wary. But a colonoscopy is a valuable screening tool for anyone over the age of 50, and thorough preparation is crucial.
A colonoscopy is considered the gold standard in colon cancer screening. During this procedure, you’ll be sedated as your doctor uses a flexible, lighted scope to examine the entire length of your colon. Your doctor will check for the presence of colon polyps, which will be removed during the procedure and sent for biopsy.
To ensure that your doctor has maximum visibility of your colon during the procedure, the entire contents of the colon must be emptied. Poor preparation could cause your colonoscopy results to be inconclusive, meaning the procedure would need to be repeated.
Preparing for the Procedure
At least one week before:
- Thoroughly read all colonoscopy prep information from your doctor. Certain medications, such as aspirin or iron supplements, should be stopped several days before your procedure.
- Purchase the bowel prep that your doctor has recommended.
- Shop for items you will need on your prep day. Be sure to stock up on clear liquids, hard candy, popsicles, magazines, toilet paper, Vaseline and Tucks wipes. You won’t want to leave the house to get any of these items on your prep day!
- Make arrangements to have someone drive you home from your colonoscopy.
The day before:
- You will be restricted from eating solid foods. You can have clear liquids such as broths, soft drinks, tea, coffee (with no milk or creamer), clear juices, Jell-O (any color except red, blue or purple), popsicles, Italian ice (any color expect red, blue or purple). Make certain that none of your liquids contain red, blue or purple dye or artificial coloring. If you are not sure if one of your desired foods is acceptable, ask your doctor for specifics (Source: Health.Harvard.edu).
- Begin your bowel prep at the allotted time (times will vary, depending on which kit you use and the time of your procedure)
The night before:
- After midnight, you will not be allowed to have anything to eat or drink until after your procedure.
- Set your alarm clock. You don’t want to miss your appointment and have to repeat your prep day!
Prepping for your colonoscopy is a daunting task, but it is a crucial step in protecting yourself against colon cancer. Once you’re finished, you won’t have to worry about it again for 10 years, so keep your eye on the prize! Just think of how great you’ll feel once you check “colonoscopy” off your to-do list!