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6 Best Colonoscopy Prep Tips

colonoscopy prep tips

It’s probably not an exaggeration to say that the preparation for a colonoscopy is one of the most dreaded processes in preventive screenings for adults aged 45 and older. It might be more feared than the actual colonoscopy, and with good reason.

A colonoscopy usually lasts less than an hour, causes minimal discomfort, and is performed under sedation. The prep involves drinking a large amount of laxatives to completely clean out the bowel. This process can take hours and may leave the skin around the anus irritated.

Finishing the laxative drink can be challenging, but is essential for accurate results. If the bowel isn’t completely emptied, your gastroenterologist may not be able to complete the colonoscopy.

Colonoscopy prep may be difficult, but here are six ways to make the entire process easier.

1. Adjust Your Diet Early

Start adjusting your diet a few days before you’re directed to. Decreasing your fiber and eating smaller portions for a few extra days may help everything “go” smoother. Avoid nuts, seeds, and high-fiber foods like corn, popcorn, and raw vegetables.

2. Stock Your Pantry With Prep-Friendly Foods

You may be on a clear liquid diet for a day or two before your colonoscopy. A liquid diet will be easier to manage if you plan ahead and have a supply of acceptable food and drinks on hand.

Coffee without creamer, popsicles, gelatin, sports drinks, pulp-free juices, and chicken or beef broth can help keep your hunger under control. It’s important to avoid orange, red, or purple-colored foods that are found in certain flavors of sports drinks, gelatin, and popsicles. The dyes used in those foods can look like traces of blood in your colon, causing inaccurate results.

3. Prepare To Pamper Your Bottom

There’s no getting around it; colonoscopy prep may become more unpleasant as the hours go by. The skin around your anus could become so irritated that wiping will be painful. It can help to use baby wipes, but be sure to use the unscented kind, or you’ll risk irritation from the perfumes in scented wipes. If you have a bidet—even better!

You can also soothe irritated skin with coconut oil, medicated wipes, Vaseline, or diaper rash cream. Applying these ahead of time can help prevent skin irritation.

4. Clear Your Schedule

This is not a good time to plan housework, have a friend drop by, or schedule a call or virtual meeting. When the colonoscopy prep starts doing its job, you’ll feel a frequent, urgent need to have a bowel movement. Probably more frequent and more urgent than you’ve ever experienced. At times, it may be difficult to control. At this stage, you’ll be glad you cleared your schedule and turned your phone off.

5. Prep Your Prep

The liquid prep you drink to clean out your bowels may have a salty flavor many people find unpleasant. If the thought of drinking the entire jug is overwhelming, you can make it go down easier by flavoring the liquid and keeping it cold. Light-colored powdered flavoring like lemonade or Crystal Light can make it taste better, but avoid varieties that produce red or purple drinks.

6. Make a Nest

Once the prep starts working, you’ll want to be as close to the bathroom as possible. You’ll also want everything you need to get through the prep to be on hand. You won’t be able to leave the house, and it may even become difficult to be more than a few steps away from the bathroom.

Make yourself a comfortable “nest” for the duration of your colonoscopy prep. You’ll need comfortable, easy-to-remove clothes like pajamas (and perhaps a spare set), self-care items to soothe your irritated bottom, and entertainment like books, games, or movies. Settle in and wait it out. The process of clearing your bowels will end in a few hours, even though it may feel like you’ve been in the bathroom for days!

The Hard Part Is Over

When you’ve finished the prep, and the only thing coming out of you is clear, watery, or slightly yellowish liquid, you’re through the worst of it. Most people say the prep is worse than the colonoscopy! You’ll be sedated for the procedure and won’t feel a thing.

When it’s all over, know that you just completed one of the most important preventive screenings of your life!

Don’t delay your colonoscopy any longer – schedule an appointment today!


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