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Colonoscopy Prep: 8 Helpful Tips

Colonoscopy Prep

How many times have you heard this: “The colonoscopy isn’t bad, but the prep is awful!”? Though it’s joked about, the prep is an essential part of a successful colonoscopy. If not done correctly, an additional colonoscopy may be needed. Your doctor needs to be able to view all parts of your colon and any stool residue will make it difficult for them. Follow these tips to get prepared for your colonoscopy.

8 Colonoscopy Prep Tips

1. Get your colonoscopy prep

There are several colonoscopy preps your doctor may prescribe. No matter the brand, they have similar instructions and most are available only by prescription. Just about all pharmacies will be able to fill your prescription.

2. Discuss your current medications and supplements with your doctor

Your doctor will give you specific instructions based on the medications you are taking. You may be instructed to stop taking stool formers, vitamins, and iron supplements 5 days before your appointment.

Your doctor will discuss instructions that will help you manage your blood sugar and still be ready for your colonoscopy if you are diabetic.

3. Shop for your clear liquid drinks and foods

You will stop eating nuts, seeds, and raw vegetables two days before your procedure. These foods take the longest to digest.

You will start a clear liquid diet on the day before your appointment. Stock up on items like popsicles, gelatin, and clear broth. You can drink coffee, tea, apple juice, soft drinks, and Gatorade, so purchase plenty of your favorites. Coffee and tea can be sweetened, but don’t add cream or milk.

It is important to avoid anything with red or purple dyes. These dyes can make the color of your colon change and interfere with your doctor’s assessment.

4. Clear your schedule and claim the bathroom

You will not want to stray far from the bathroom once you start your prep. Find someone to care for your children and pets. Cancel book club and other social and work engagements. You certainly don’t want to be in a Zoom meeting when you start your prep!

Stake your claim to your favorite bathroom – you can even put up a sign. If there is just one bathroom in the house, you will want to coordinate schedules with your family. Have them take their toiletries and other necessities out before you get started.

5. Prepare your bathroom sanctuary

Having entertainment available during the purge process can help the time pass. Have some books and magazines nearby. Bring your phone or tablet along with the charger into the bathroom. It might be nice to have a radio or speakers to listen to music.

Now is the time to put out some good, soft toilet paper and wipes. You can use diaper cream or other soothing creams prior to starting the prep. If you have hemorrhoids, keep your favorite topical cream handy. The diarrhea that comes with the prep will likely irritate them.

6. Wear comfortable clothes

Your softest, loosest clothing is a great option to wear during the prep for your colonoscopy. You will be on or near the toilet for a good amount of time and you will be grateful for pants that are easy to remove when the urge hits.

7. Double-check the colonoscopy prep instructions and drink-up

Each brand of prep drink has different instructions. It is important that you spend time reviewing the instructions to get the timing and doses right. You will drink some of the prep solution the evening before your procedure and the rest in the morning.

8. Don’t stop drinking the colonoscopy prep until it’s gone

The goal of the prep for colonoscopy is to completely rid your body of food particles. Your bowel movements will be watery and clear or light yellow. It is still important to continue drinking your colonoscopy prep until it is completely gone even if your stool has become clear.


The prep process can be a little scary the first time. These steps will help you breeze through it. The good news is that there is usually very little discomfort. You will likely be able to sleep through the night once the first round of evening prep is over.

Finding colon polyps early before they can become cancerous can save your life and doing the prep is worth it. Schedule your colonoscopy appointment today.

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