Prep: The Most Important Thing You Can Do for Colonoscopy Success
January 27, 2022
If it’s time for your colonoscopy, it’s time for the prep. Everyone agrees: It’s not the most pleasant thing. But ensuring a good bowel prep is actually the most important thing you can do to make the colonoscopy a success.
Proper bowel preparation beforehand ensures that your doctor will be able to detect any growths, lesions or abnormalities in the colon that could be cancerous, says gastroenterologist Brooke Glessing, MD, Medical Director of the Digestive Health Institute at UH Ahuja Medical Center and Director of Endoscopy of the Digestive Health Institute at UH Cleveland Medical Center.
“If your colon is not clean, your doctor will not have a clear view of your colon and could miss something important,” Dr. Glessing says.
Talk To Your Doctor About Your Medications
It’s important before your colonoscopy to tell your doctor all of the medications and supplements that you are taking, Dr. Glessing says.
“You may be asked to stop taking some. Also, ask your doctor about which medications you can take on the day of the procedure,” she says.
The day before your test, you will begin to take the laxative your doctor prescribed for you. Follow the directions you are given.
“The liquid laxatives can taste gritty and unpleasant, and you may feel like you need to throw up. This is normal,” Dr. Glessing says. “The prep has come a long way from what it used to be, but there is no easy way around this.”
Hints for Your Colonoscopy Prep
Dr. Glessing has some tips to help you get through the colonoscopy prep.
- Try eating lighter in the days leading up to the procedure.
- Avoid high-residue foods such as nuts, corn, peas and seeds at least three days before your exam.
- The day before your procedure, you can only have clear liquids such as water, tea, black coffee, apple juice and broth. You may also eat popsicles and gelatin.
- Don’t eat or drink anything red or purple, as it may leave a residue in the colon that could be mistaken for blood during the test.
- Chill the liquid laxative in the refrigerator before you drink it. Bypass your taste buds by drinking it with a straw.
- You can follow each sip of laxatives with water or clear juice to take away the taste.
- Suck on lemon slices between sips.
Pamper Yourself on Prep Day
The laxatives will cause you to have loose, frequent bowel movements and eventually watery diarrhea, Dr. Glessing says. So you will want to stay close to a bathroom. A proper prep will result in light yellow to clear liquid stool.
Don’t plan any outings on the preparation day, she says. “Instead, pamper yourself, watch movies, read, nap and keep drinking those clear liquids to avoid becoming dehydrated.”
If your doctor prescribes a split dose prep, this means you will have taken part of your solution the night before and you’ll take the rest the morning of your procedure.