How you prepare for a Colonoscopy: Things to do and Expectations

Colonoscopy is a minimally invasive procedure used to check inside the colon and rectum for any abnormalities, diseases, or changes. It is most commonly used to check for early signs of colon cancer.

A colonoscopy involves the use of a flexible tube known as a colonoscopy. A tiny camera is attached to the tip of the colonoscope that allows your doctor to see the inside of your colon on a monitor screen. The colonoscope is inserted into your colon through your rectum. Your doctor then views your entire colon for any abnormalities, infections, or cancerous polyps.

How to prepare for the colonoscopy procedure

Before undergoing a colonoscopy procedure, you will need to first consult with your doctor and get all the necessary information.

Typically, when you want to undergo a colonoscopy procedure you will need to;

Follow a special diet a day before the procedure

For a few days before your colonoscopy, you will need to follow a special diet. The aim of this special diet is to clean out your colon so that it is little or no stool remaining in your intestine and to allow your doctor to see the internal lining of your colon more clearly.

For 1 to 3 days before the procedure, you won’t be allowed to eat solid food. You will be limited to drinking only clear liquids such as water and carbonated drinks. Avoid red and purple liquids as they can be confused with blood during the procedure.

You may be allowed to drink liquids such as gelatin with lemon, lime and orange flavors, apple juice or white grape juice plain coffee or tea without cream or milk. You may not be allowed to eat or drink anything the night before the procedure.

Undergo a bowel prep

A bowel prep is required to make you pass out a stool to clear out your bowel. You will need to take laxatives to make you pass out stool more frequently.

You may be given laxatives in form of pills or powders which are dissolved in water or clear liquids. You may need to take these laxatives over a given period of time. You will need to also take laxatives the night and the morning before the procedure.

Adjust your medications

You will need to adjust your medications and inform your doctor about the medications that you are currently taking or have taken in the previous weeks. If you have diabetes, high blood pressure, heart problems, you will need to inform your doctor. Inform your doctor if you have taken medications that contain iron in the previous weeks or a week before the procedure.

How long does it take to clear bowels for a colonoscopy?

You can start clearing your bowels for your colonoscopy procedure as of 3 days before your procedure. Limit your intake of food and drink more water. Take laxatives on the night and few hours before your procedure so that you can defecate more frequently to remove the stool from your colon and make your colon clearer for your surgeon to view.

Can I eat 24 hours before a colonoscopy?

It is best not to eat any solid food a day before your colonoscopy. It is advised not to eat any solid foods if you can afford to skip meals and stay without solid foods for 24 hours before your procedure. However, if you are unable to stay without food for 24 hours before your procedure, you can take solid food for up to 14 hours before your procedure. Do not eat any more solid foods after 14 hours prior to your procedure. You can drink water and take clear liquids during this time.

What foods can you eat 3 days before a colonoscopy?

Eat low-fiber foods that are easy to digest. The types of food that you can eat 3 days before a colonoscopy include:

  • Bread and grains made with refined white flour including rolls, muffins, bagels, pasta, White rice, Plain crackers, Low-fiber cereal including puffed rice, cream of wheat, corn flakes
  • Chicken, Turkey, Lamb, Lean pork, Veal, Fish, seafood, Eggs, Tofu
  • Milk, Cream, Hot chocolate, Buttermilk, Cheese, Yogurt, Sour cream, Almond butter, ice cream
  • Well-cooked vegetables without skin, peeled carrots, mushrooms, peeled potatoes, peeled cucumbers without seed
  • Fruit without skin or seeds, Fruit juice without pulp, Applesauce, Canned or cooked fruit without seeds or skin
  • Butter, Margarine, Vegetable and other oils, Mayonnaise, Salad dressings made without seeds or nuts
  • Coffee, Tea, Hot chocolate or cocoa, Clear fruit drinks without pulp, Soda, and other carbonated beverages
  • Sugar, Salt, Jelly, Honey, Syrup, Lemon juice
  • Custard, Plain pudding, Sherbet or sorbet, Jell-O or gelatin without added fruit or red or purple dye, Cookies or cake made with white flour without seeds, dried fruit, or nuts.

Can I drink water before the colonoscopy?

Yes, it is recommended that you drink lots of water before colonoscopy to clear your colon.

Will I be up all night with colonoscopy prep?

Bowel movements usually start within 2-3 hours or longer after taking the prep. Some colonoscopy preps are taken in one evening; hence you may have your bowel movements in a few hours before you sleep. Some are also taken evening and the following morning.

This means you will have bowel movements in the evening before you sleep and morning before your procedure. If you want to take your colonoscopy prep in the evening, it is best you drink it at the early hours of the evening so that you can have bowel movements early enough before going to bed and to prevent running to the toilet all night.

Foods to avoid before the colonoscopy procedure

Before undergoing a colonoscopy procedure, there are certain foods that you need to avoid for a few days before your procedure. These include:

  • Whole grains or high-fiber such as brown or wild rice, whole grain bread, rolls, pasta, or crackers, whole-grain or high-fiber cereal, oatmeal, bread or cereal with nuts or seeds
  • Tough meat or uncooked meat with gristle
  • Nuts or seeds such as peanuts, almonds, walnuts, chunky nut butter, fennel, sesame, pumpkin, or sunflower
  • Dried peas including split or black-eyed, dried beans including kidney, pinto, or chickpea, lentils, or any other legume
  • Seeds, or dried fruit, raw fruit with seeds, skin, or membranes include berries, pineapple, apples, oranges, or watermelon. Avoid cooked or canned fruit with seeds or skin, raisins or other dried fruit
  • Raw, skin, seeds, peel; or certain other vegetables such as corn, potatoes with skin, tomatoes, cucumbers with seeds and peel, cooked cabbage or brussels sprouts, green peas, summer and winter squash, lima beans, or onions
  • Salad dressing made with seeds or nuts
  • Unstrained soups, chili, lentil soup, dried bean soup, corn soup, or pea soup
  • Coconut, anything with seeds or nuts, anything with added red or purple dye, cookies or cakes made with whole-grain flour, seeds, dried fruit, or nuts
  • Fruit or vegetable juice with pulp, or beverages with red or purple dye
  • Coconut, popcorn, jam, marmalade, relishes, pickles, olives, or stone-ground mustard
  • Yogurt mixed with nuts, seeds, or granola

6 Tips for an Easier Colonoscopy Prep

The aim of a colonoscopy is to find and remove all tumors and colon polyps. Colonoscopy prep helps to properly empty the colon to make it clearer to view so that your doctor has the best chances of finding tumors and polyps. If the colon is not completely empty, your doctor may find it difficult to clearly see the inside of your colon. This can cause tumors and polyps to remain in your colon and may cause a need for a repeat colonoscopy procedure.

To properly prep for your colonoscopy procedure, here are some vital tips to follow:

Stick to liquid diets the day before your procedure

It is recommended that you take only liquid diets a few days and the day prior to your procedure. Taking clear liquids helps to wash away stool from the colon. Do not eat or drink anything that is red or purple in color. This is because red liquids can be mistaken for blood and it will make the colon more difficult to see.

Split your prep into two days

Doctors advise that you split your prep into two days. Take a portion in the early hours of the evening before your procedure and on the morning of the day of your procedure. This will ensure that you clear out your colon more thoroughly.

Bowel movements usually start 2-3 hours after drinking your prep; hence be sure to take it at a comfortable time before bed. When you want to drink your prep the morning of your procedure, ensure you give some hours to have your bowel movements before your procedure.

Go through your prep instructions

Before your colonoscopy procedure, your doctor will provide you with prep instructions that you should follow. Read your prep instructions thoroughly and follow the instructions given to you. You can contact your doctor in case you have any questions to ask. Purchase the laxatives that are recommended by your doctor and drink them according to your doctor’s directions.

Find the right prep for you

Colonoscopy preps come in a variety of forms including flavors and liquids. Work with your doctor to find the right prep for you. Find the prep that works best for you. Consider your health condition when choosing prep. Also, consider cost and affordability when choosing.

Chill the prep, flavor it and drink it through a straw

Most people find it easier to drink prep when it’s cold and flavored. The taste of prep could be bad and intolerable for most people. It even tastes worse when it’s warm. Because of all these, most people find it easier to drink prep when it’s cold and flavored. Keep it in your refrigerator for a few hours and mix with water and lemon, lime, or orange flavors before drinking. Avoid mixing it with substances with red or purple colors.

Drinking it with a straw is also much easier than drinking directly. You can drink clear liquids or take lemon or orange juice after drinking the prep to wash off the bad taste from your mouth.

Stay close to the toilet

Bowel movements can happen suddenly when you start drinking your prep. It is advisable to stay close to the toilet so that you can quickly access the toilet when you feel like stooling. Wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothing that you can easily take off when you feel like stooling.

How you prepare for a Colonoscopy: Things to do and Expectations

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