The process of preparing for your colonoscopy may seem like unnecessary work, but in fact these are crucial steps to ensuring that your procedure goes as smoothly as possible for yourself and your doctor. If you choose to skip the prep, or don’t prepare well enough, there could be increased risk of complications, and can make it much more difficult to locate pre-cancerous polyps.
Your doctor will provide you with instructions on preparing for your colonoscopy well before your procedure. Be sure to read these instructions immediately and in full so you can take all the required steps on the correct time frame.
One of the easiest parts of preparation is to switch up your diet as you approach your screening. Harvard Medical School recommends that you move to a low-fiber diet a few days before your procedure. This includes cutting out nuts, seeds, dried fruit, raw fruits and vegetables and whole grain food products. Harvard also recommends no solid foods the day prior to the procedure, instead opting for clear juices, such as grape or apple juice, black coffee or tea, and clear soft drinks and sports drinks. Popsicles and Jell-O are also great options. It is crucial that you do not consume any food or drink two hours prior to the procedure (Harvard, 2020). Sharyn Worrall of FightColorectalCancer.org also provides a tip that decreasing meal size can assist in keeping bowels cleared when switching your diet (Worrall, 2019).
Another piece of colonoscopy prep is ensuring your bowels are cleared. Your doctor will prescribe bowel-clearing liquids to assist with this process. It is recommended that you take these liquids the afternoon or evening prior to your procedure. A clear bowel will ensure no complications that could lead to missed polyps or a cancelled or rescheduled procedure. Again, ensure you have consulted with your doctor on when to begin preparations and when to begin with the bowel-clearing process.
When taking the bowel clearing liquid, be sure to prepare. Locate a restroom nearby with books, your laptop, or some music. Once you ingest the liquid you may have limited time before the urge to clear your bowels occurs. Be sure the restroom is also properly equipped with toilet paper and wet wipes. Some patients have experienced discomfort and recommend Vaseline as a solution.
These diarrhea-inducing drinks may also have a less than desirable taste. Harvard Medical School recommends adding flavor packets such as Crystal Light or Kool-Aid powder, if the powder is clear. They also recommend ginger or lime juice or sucking on a lemon after each glass (Harvard 2020).
Following your procedure, Worrell advises that you ease back into eating solid foods. Don’t head straight for your nearest fast-food restaurant and overload. She also recommends that those who have polyps removed avoid spicy food for several days. Those who have undergone the procedure have stated that probiotics have helped in recovery (Worrell, 2019).
When it comes to preparation for your colonoscopy it can’t be understated how valuable it is to follow the directions of your doctor precisely. Read the instructions thoroughly and ask questions should they arise. This process will ensure that you are able to complete the procedure quickly, efficiently and safely.