Colonoscopy: What You Need to Know and How to Prepare

Colonoscopy is an exam that helps your doctor spot even the slightest abnormalities in your colon and rectum, including the small colon cancers while they’re still in their first stages and are highly treatable. Although a highly useful exam that could prevent thousands of colon cancers a year, colonoscopy is absolutely nobody’s favorite thing – in fact, many people are deathly scared of it. If you’re one of them, but you need to have the procedure soon, read this article, follow the proposed tips and tricks, and you’re guaranteed to be fine.

Colonoscopy Facts

Colonoscopy seems to be shrouded in mystery and fear, but there’s really no reason for that. Like most exams, it’s not pleasant, but it is incredibly useful. This exam is the best screening to prevent colon cancer, so if your doctor has scheduled one for you, count your blessings – this could be one of the best things you do for your health.

  • Colonoscopy lasts between 30 to 60 minutes, during which time the doctor will inspect your colon with a colonoscope, which is a long and flexible tool that transmits the image of your colon. This allows the doctor to examine the lining of your colon and look for any abnormalities, such as polyps.
  • Before the colonoscope is inserted, you are given intravenous medication that will relax you and maybe make you a bit drowsy. This is a good thing, as it won’t allow you to panic or feel any pain. Some patients don’t even remember their colonoscopy exam!
  • During the exam, you may feel mild cramping. The best way to reduce this sensation is to remember to take deep, slow breaths. Whatever you may feel, do not panic as there is no reason for that – always remember that millions of people have colonoscopy exams every year, and that this procedure is done to help you.

Preparation

You may have heard that colonoscopy preparation is worse than the exam itself. Although far from pleasant, the preparation is really not as bad as most people like to say. Here is what a typical bowel preparation looks like:

  • You change your diet for a few days before the exam (2-3 days will do). Eat a low fiber diet and drink plenty of fluids. This means you need to avoid whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, and even raw fruits and veggies.
  • You completely avoid solid foods the day before the exam. Instead, you drink plenty of water and tea, coffee if you consume it and clear juice. You can eat clear soups and clear broth.
  • On the evening before your colonoscopy, you take a laxative that triggers diarrhea. This may be the split-dose method, which means you take half the laxative liquid the night before the exam, and the other half around six hours before it, or the single-dose method. Your doctor will advise you what to do.
  • Finally, two hours before the exam, you do not drink or eat anything.

That’s it! If you follow these simple tips and remember that colonoscopy is just an exam, you’ll do fine. Remember, colonoscopies save lives.

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