Do you know the number one reason people avoid getting a colonoscopy? It isn’t embarrassment, lack of time or even concern about the cost. It’s fear. A survey by the Colon Cancer Alliance found that fear of the test results, the bowel preparation and the procedure itself was the primary reason that qualified candidates did not get a colonoscopy.
Colon cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer among men and women in the United States, but with early detection and regular screening, it is 90 percent preventable. Instead of focusing on the fears and anxieties you have about this exam, try to focus on ways you can make it easier. Here are some tips to help your colonoscopy experience go as smoothly as possible:
Split-dose your prep – Traditional colonoscopy prep required patients to drink a gallon of solution the night before their exam, but doctors have found that the split-dose method is better tolerated by patients and more effective in cleansing the colon. With a split-dose prep, patients drink half the prep solution the night before their colonoscopy and the other half 3 to 8 hours prior to the exam. Research has shown that split-dosing increases adenoma detection rates by five percent and improves prep quality sevenfold (Source: Mayo Clinic).
Enjoy a low-residue diet – New guidelines now allow for a low-residue diet in place of the dreaded clear liquid diet. Instead of being restricted to popsicles, soda and broth the day before their procedure, patients can now enjoy poultry, fish, eggs, white bread, white rice, and fruits and vegetables without peels or seeds. This diet is much more easily tolerated by patients and is just as effective as the clear liquid diet.
Give your tush a little TLC – A day of constant bathroom visits is going to be rough on your rear. Be sure to have an adequate stash of soft toilet paper or wet wipes on hand, and keep a bottle of diaper rash ointment nearby. You’ll be glad you did!
Pamper yourself – You’ll be anchored to the toilet most of the day, so think of ways to keep yourself comfortable and entertained. Wear a pair of comfortable pajamas or sweatpants with an elastic waistband to make frequent bathroom breaks a little easier. Rent movies from Redbox or add TV shows and movies to your list on Netflix for entertainment that is readily available all day long. Ask a friend to be available for encouraging texts or phone calls throughout the day.
Rely on others – Chances are you’ve got a friend or family member who has been through a colonoscopy and would be happy to share their experience with you. Words of advice and encouragement from a loved one can work wonders to calm your fears, so rely on the experience of others to help you get through this.