You can choose to view a colonoscopy as a feared or dreaded task in your life — or as a milestone.
Growing older has its advantages. As you age, you accumulate knowledge and expertise, and your family begins to look to you as a source of wisdom. So, as you grow older, grow BOLDER. Use that boldness and wisdom to make choices that support your health and longevity.
One of the wisest decisions you can make is to schedule a colonoscopy to prevent colon cancer. Even though you might be dreading the colonoscopy prep, most people agree that it’s not that bad. Here are four ways to make preparation for your colonoscopy more tolerable:
One of the longstanding complaints about the colonoscopy prep day is the large volume of liquid you must consume on the night before the exam. Recent studies confirm that this is no longer necessary. Drinking half of the solution the night before the exam and the other half on the morning of the exam is as effective as consuming the entire dose in one evening. Gastroenterologists refer to this new protocol as the split-dose method. Splitting the dose reduces feelings of bloating and nausea, which can lead to vomiting, and most patients affirm that the halved volume is much more manageable.
Just like choosing your toothpaste flavor at a dental cleaning, you can customize the flavor of your prep solution. Select your favorite Gatorade or Crystal Light as the base of the solution and mix according to the colonoscopy prep instructions from your doctor. Most people find that chilling the solution in the refrigerator makes the drink much more palatable.
A clear liquid diet may sound like a punishment, but you have more options than you might think. Did you know that chicken broth, soda, juice, popsicles, Italian ice, Jell-O, gummy bears and LifeSavers are considered “clear liquids”? You will definitely miss eating solid food on your prep day, but there is no reason to go hungry with so many available choices. Just remember to avoid beverages, frozen treats and candies that are orange, red or purple. Food dye can mask the lining of the colon and interfere with the colonoscopy.
Even though you’ll be glad when the process is over, your prep day and colonoscopy procedure are major steps in preventing colon cancer, the third-leading cause of cancer death in the United States. Other colon screening methods are less invasive, but they don’t have any protective benefits. During a colonoscopy, your gastroenterologist can remove precancerous polyps before they become cancerous. Researchers agree that most non-hereditary colon cancer could be prevented if all adults were screened appropriately.
As young-onset colon cancer incidence continues to increase, it is important to get screened earlier. The American Cancer Society recommends colon screenings beginning at the age of 45 (instead of 50) for all adults who are at average risk for colon cancer. If you are African American or you have a personal or family history of colon cancer or colon polyps, you should be screened before age 45. Talk to your doctor about your risk, when you should begin colon screenings and how often you should be screened. Remember that a colonoscopy will always be the best choice in colon cancer prevention.
Instead of dreading the fact that you’re growing older, grow BOLDER! Commit to nutritious eating, daily exercise and routine screenings like colonoscopies for lifelong health. Your children, family and friends will be inspired by your example and want to follow in your footsteps.