Preparing for a Colonoscopy
Thorough cleansing of the entire bowel is essential for effective results so there will not be a need for retesting. Your gastroenterologist will give you colonoscopy prep instructions which may include a combination of the following: enemas, restriction from eating solid foods a day or two before the test and taking pill-form and/or liquid laxatives.
Additionally, you may be asked to stop taking aspirin or other blood-thinning medications for several days before the test and will not be able to eat or drink anything after midnight the night before the colonoscopy procedure. To avoid dehydration, you should drink clear, fat-free bouillon or broth, gelatin, strained fruit juice (no grape juice or any liquid with red color), water, plain and unsweetened coffee or tea, or diet soda.
Unless otherwise instructed, continue taking any regularly prescribed medication. Your gastroenterologist may ask you to stop taking iron a few weeks before the test, if you are on it. The gastroenterologist will also want to know if you have heart disease, lung disease or any other medical condition that may need special attention.
Finally, you will need to arrange for someone to drive you home after the procedure because lingering, subtle effects of the sedation will make it unsafe for driving until the next day.
The Importance of Thorough Colonoscopy Prep
Since most patients receive a sedative and are not awake during the actual procedure, it’s the preparation that most people dread. Horror stories about bad-tasting laxatives and the constant trips to the bathroom may be scary, but it’s important to keep the end result in mind. The goal is to empty the colon completely so you can have a successful and thorough colonoscopy. What could be worse than going through the colonoscopy prep and then having to repeat the whole process because the results were inconclusive?
Compared to the three hours you should plan to spend at the center on the day of a colonoscopy, the prep day is much longer. A successful colonoscopy cannot be done without a complete cleansing, so you must follow all steps correctly. If you are at average risk for colon cancer and your colonoscopy is clear, you will likely not have to have another colonoscopy for 10 years.