Colonoscopy Preparation Guide
A colonoscopy is a medical investigation in which a doctor, specifically a gastroenterologist, examines the inner lining of your colon. He will use an instrument known as the colonoscope to ensure that your intestinal tissue is healthy, and they look for polyps or tumors that may be cancerous. The procedure is recommended for all individuals who are 50 years old. For people with a family history of colorectal cancer, it is recommended that it is performed at a younger age, as well as more frequently to increase the chances of early detection.
This medical investigation requires an extensive prep in order for the GI specialist to be able to see everything clearly. There are colonoscopy preparation medications that you will need to take, and there are specific diet restrictions to follow to ensure a successful scan.
Colonoscopy preparation instructions
Before this medical investigation can be performed, you will need to clear your bowels completely. Failure to do this forces the doctor to reschedule your exam, and then you will need to do the entire colonoscopy preparation procedure over again! Your medical provider will give you the full instructions and medications, usually Golytely, two weeks before the scheduled date.
A few days before your colonoscopy is scheduled, you should switch to a low fiber, or low residue, diet. This means no nuts, seeds, whole grains, raw fruits or vegetables, or dried fruit. This will begin to clear out your intestinal tract because high fiber foods move more slowly through your system.
The day before your investigation is scheduled, you will need to follow a clear liquid diet. This means that you will only consume things like broth, coffee with no creamer or sweeteners, tea, juices like apple or white grape, soft drinks like ginger ale that are clear, sports drinks, gelatin, or popsicles. This is a crucial step because you will also begin to take your colonoscopy preparation bowel medications. Stay away from any liquids that have blue, purple, or red dyes. These colors can stay in your system longer and obscure the intestinal lining.
The best plan for successfully completing this colonoscopy preparation stage is to have a large clear liquid breakfast, followed by a smaller lunch and tiny dinner. It is best to drink as much liquid as you can during this time. Your colonoscopy preparation medications will cause you to need the restroom often during the day, and it may feel like you do nothing but using the restroom. Keep distraction materials in there and plan your day so that there are no errands that need to be run or engagements you need to attend. Rest and relax as much as possible on this day.
On the scheduled day, you will finish taking the colonoscopy preparation laxative meds around six hours before your investigation. You will continue on the clear liquid diet until two hours before the effective procedure. At that time you may not have anything else to eat or drink. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, this is the last step in removing everything in your intestinal tract, because the doctor should be able to have a very clear picture as he examines your intestinal walls. Second, you should not eat or drink during this time because you will be lightly sedated; abstaining from food or drink decreases the chances of complications from the anesthesia.
The colonoscopy preparation period can be very uncomfortable, but failure to follow through with the diet will make the whole procedure useless. This is because the visualization of the inner lining of the colon will not be clear enough for the gastroenterologist to make any conclusions. Your meds, especially the laxatives, might cause uncomfortable diarrhea, and so it is important to be prepared with items like baby wipes and diaper cream to soothe yourself and keep clean. The medication may cause nausea. If this happens, call your doctor right away. They may allow you to take a break, or separate the colonoscopy preparation medication down into smaller doses.
If you are under any medication, it is important that you let your doctor know. Most medications do not interfere with the procedure. However, medications like blood thinners can be very dangerous because of the increased risk of bleeding. Also, you should inform the specialist performing the investigation of any major diseases and allergies that you have.
What does colonoscopy involve?
After you complete the colonoscopy preparation, you will head into the doctor’s office. Be sure to bring someone to drive you home, because the medications you will receive can make you very sleepy. Before the investigation can start, your doctor will deliver sedatives and pain relievers intravenously. These medications will make you drowsy, but this is necessary since the whole process is not known to be very comfortable. However, you may still experience some mild cramping despite the sedatives.
While you lie down on your left side, the colonoscope is inserted into your anus and passed through the rectum to the colon. This long and flexible tube has a light and a very small camera attached, and the specialist guides the tube through your colon checking for anything out of the ordinary and visualizing any potential problems.
The procedure itself will not be painful because of the medications involved. Many people have no memory of the actual event and it usually takes less than an hour to complete.
There are some circumstances where your colonoscopy may not be as successful. If the wall of the colon is not clear enough to be examined, for example, the doctor will not be able to confidently conclude whether or not abnormalities are present. In such cases, he may choose to reschedule you and this time use different colonoscopy preparation instructions. Another alternative would be to have an X-ray, although this is not even nearly as effective.
Why is a colonoscopy important?
A colonoscopy is performed to examine any issues with the colon. In many cases, the main aim of the procedure is to screen for any polyps and symptoms of colon cancer. For people in families with a history of colon cancer, it is recommended that you have the procedure done regularly, especially when you are younger. Early detection is a huge factor in increasing the odds of survival with this type of cancer. A couple of slightly uncomfortable days could save your life if the specialist finds a polyp or signs of cancerous growth.
Even if you do not have a family history of colon or rectal cancer, you should undergo the procedure at least once by the age of 50, and every ten years after that. It can also be done to investigate abnormalities such as the presence of blood in the stool, dark stools, chronic diarrhea, unexplained weight loss, or iron deficiency.
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