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6 Tips for an Easier Colonoscopy Prep

As you get older, your doctor is likely to recommend you get a colorectal cancer screening. Before the doctor can check for any abnormalities, your colon must be clean so they can see inside properly.

Colonoscopies are brief, 20- to 30-minute procedures that are conducted while you are under anesthesia. The most dreaded part of colonoscopies isn’t the procedure itself, but the preparation that one must do before going in. While prep can be a bit inconvenient and annoying, it’s important to do to ensure a successful colonoscopy. Today’s guide goes over six tips for making your colonoscopy prep to be easier and be more effective.

The gastroenterology specialists at Northeastern Gastroenterology Associates can conduct colonoscopies at all of our locations in Pennsylvania — Honesdale, Blakey, and Dingmans Ferry. Since nearly one in every 23 adults in the United States develops colon cancer at some point in their life, colonoscopies are recommended to detect masses, colon polyps, and colon cancer early. The sooner issues are detected, the more likely treatment is to be effective. Though colon cancer is one of the deadliest forms of cancer it is also one of the most treatable.

Our gastroenterology specialists are committed to providing you with state-of-the-art colonoscopy screenings to detect and prevent the development of colon cancer as soon as possible. Schedule a colon cancer screening today.

What Does Colonoscopy Prep Entail?

It’s crucial that you empty the contents of the colon before a colonoscopy, so the examination goes faster, is more effective at identifying potential issues, and you don’t have to have a second check-up due to some complication. There are two main parts of preparing for a colonoscopy:

  • Diet

  • Drinking bowel-cleaning liquids

Colonoscopy Prep Diet

The general process of a colonoscopy prep diet looks like:

  1. A few days before the procedure, you start eating a low-fiber diet, avoiding nuts, seeds, wholegrains, raw fruit, vegetables, etc.

  2. The day before the colonoscopy procedure is to take place, you eat no solid foods and only consume clear liquids such as broth, coffee, Jell-O, popsicles, etc.

  3. On the day of the colonoscopy, clear liquid foods are all you should be having, and you shouldn’t drink or eat anything for two hours before the procedure.

The prep process may vary depending on your medical history. It’s best to follow the instructions you are given strictly to avoid any issues during the examination.

Bowel Prep for Colonoscopy

The afternoon or evening before the colonoscopy is scheduled, you drink a liquid laxative that triggers bowel-clearing diarrhea. The type of laxative may vary, and it entails drinking quite a bit of liquid to stay hydrated — around four liters or so. The proven most effective method for colonoscopy prep is called a split prep, wherein you drink half of the laxatives the night before and the other half about six hours before the procedure is scheduled to begin.

How to Make Your Colonoscopy Prep Easier

It’s normal to have some worries about going through a colonoscopy prep, especially if you’ve never had a colonoscopy before and don’t know what to expect. Here are six recommendations that may help minimize discomfort and maximize the effectiveness of your colonoscopy:

#1: Prep for Prep

Don’t wait until the day you are supposed to start drinking laxatives and eating differently to read the prep instructions provided by your doctor. Read them at least a week in advance so you have time to speak with your doctor’s office with any questions, get all the supplies you need, and arrange your schedule so you can be home on prep day. Supplies you may want to get in preparation may include:

  • Soft toilet paper and/or wet wipes

  • Your preferred types of clear liquids, such as coffee, tea, gelatin (lemon, lime, or orange only), etc.

  • Cream or ointment for anal skin irritation

#2: Adjust Your Diet a Few Days in Advance

Starting a few days before your colonoscopy, start transitioning to smaller portions of low-fiber food, to help make the evening before go more smoothly. A few days before the examination is set to occur, transitioning to eating smaller portions of foods such as:

  • Soup

  • Eggs

  • Salmon

  • Chicken

  • Steamed vegetables

  • Smoothies

You should also avoid eating the following foods:

  • Popcorn

  • Red meat

  • Fried foods

  • Nuts and seeds

  • Corn

  • Anything bright red in color

By choosing what you eat carefully and reducing meal sizes, the colonoscopy prep and the colonoscopy itself are likely to go easier and more smoothly.

#3: Drink It Cold

Many people find it easier to drink the colon-cleansing formula cold. It may also help to drink it through a straw. You can even add some flavoring powder (stick with lemon, lime, and orange flavors) to make it taste better. Sucking on hard candy or a lemon can be helpful afterwards as well.

#4: Stay Home & Close to the Bathroom

Once the prep is underway, bowel movements can occur suddenly, so you’ll want to stay close to the bathroom. Make sure you have the time and privacy you need beforehand so you can go through the process with as little stress as possible. Clear your schedule to clear your bowels: get a babysitter for the kids, and put books, magazines, a tablet, or something like that in the bathroom to help you pass the time. It is also a good idea to wear loose clothing.

#5: Don’t Stop the Prep Early

If you are seeing your stool starting to run clear, you may be tempted to stop drinking all of the colon-cleansing formula, but keep at it! It’s not uncommon for your stool to be liquid and lighter in color at one point and then change later. Stick with the full dose of laxatives to ensure your prep is effective and you don’t have to do it again in a month or so due to improper prep!

#6: Share Any Concerns You Have With Your Doctor

If you have any concerns or questions regarding your colonoscopy prep, share them with your doctor. Your doctor can provide you all the guidelines you need to make the most of your colonoscopy, and also make you feel less anxious about the process. For example, if you are worried about feeling hungry, your doctor can recommend some clear liquids that help make you feel full.

When to Get Screened for Colon Cancer

Remember — a colonoscopy screening could save your life. Colon cancer is the third most diagnosed cancer in the US, with about 100,000 confirmed cases each year. The American Cancer Society changed its colorectal cancer screening guidelines in 2018, now recommending that, instead of starting screenings at the age of 50, screenings should now begin to be regularly conducted at the age of 45. You may be at a higher risk of colon cancer if you have a family or personal history of colorectal cancer, polyps, or inflammatory bowel disease. People of African-American descent also have a higher likelihood of getting colon cancer.

Don’t put off getting a colonoscopy. It’s better to be uncomfortable for a few days than to have undiagnosed colon cancer. Schedule an appointment with a gastroenterologist in Pennsylvania at one of our locations today — Honesdale, Blakey, and Dingmans Ferry.

Dr. Reynolds, Dr. Downey, and Dr. Talenti are board-certified, fellowship-trained gastroenterologists you can rely on. Forward-thinking digestive specialists, our founders are committed to leading the way in providing local residents with top-quality colonoscopies. If you have any questions or would like to learn more about getting a colonoscopy at Northeastern Gastroenterology Associates, give us a call!