Four Common Misconceptions about Colonoscopy Prep



Many of us can remember having test anxiety in school. Sometimes test anxiety included sweaty palms, a raised heart rate and a queasy feeling in our stomachs. Some medical tests and exams can bring on those old familiar feelings of test anxiety. Feeling unprepared or nervous is common, but good studying and preparation can bring confidence on test day.

A colonoscopy can cause a great deal of “test anxiety” because it requires a good amount of preparation to cleanse the colon. Listening to other peoples’ stories about colon cleansing can increase anxiety, especially if this is your first colonoscopy. It is important to be able to find sources of good, sound information and not rely on someone else’s story. Here are a few misconceptions about colonoscopy preparation:

  1. The colon cleanse is a horrible experience—Emptying your colon is necessary for thorough and accurate results. However, the most common complaint from people is the volume of fluid you are required to drink and not the time in the bathroom.
  2. There is only one type of colon preparation—Actually, there are several types of colon preps, and you can talk to your doctor about which one is best for you. Now, there is even a lower-volume option if you have a hard time drinking a large volume of fluid at one time.
  3. You have to go an entire day without eating—Yes, this is partially true. You can only have clear liquids that will pass through your system easily and not interfere with the colonoscopy. However, there are a few items on the approved list that feel more like real food. Along with clear broths and juices, you can also have Jell-o, popsicles and Italian ice (as long as they do not contain red or blue dye). Bring on the treats!
  4. Spending an entire day in the bathroom will be boring—You need to stay close to the bathroom, but try to give yourself something to look forward to on prep day. Subscribe to Netflix and try a new show you have been wanting to see! You could get through a season in one day! Purchase a new book and see how much of it you can read on prep day. You might actually enjoy that time to yourself.

If you still find yourself feeling nervous about your colonoscopy prep and procedure, talk to your doctor and ask for some literature and information. Searching the internet and asking for other people’s opinions can cause misinformation and more anxiety. Save your questions for your doctor, and this will help you feel more informed and confident for your prep day and your colonoscopy.

To find out more tips about prep day and how you can avoid the need to retest, read our comprehensive information about colonoscopy prep.