Stop Colon Cancer Now Logo

Preparing for a Colonoscopy

Thorough cleansing of the entire bowel is essential for effective results so there will not be a need for retesting. Instructions for doing this will be given by your gastroenterologist, but this can include a combination of the following: enemas, restriction from eating solid foods a day or two before the test and taking pill-form and/or liquid laxatives. You may be told to stop taking aspirin or other blood-thinning medications for several days before the test as well. You will not be able to eat or drink anything after midnight the night before the procedure.

You need to arrange for someone to drive you home afterward

To avoid dehydration, patients should drink clear, fat-free bouillon or broth, gelatin, strained fruit juice (no grape juice or any liquid with red color), water, plain and unsweetened coffee or tea, or diet soda. Unless otherwise instructed, continue taking any regularly-prescribed medication. Your physician may ask you to stop taking iron preparations a few weeks before the test if you are on them. Finally, you need to arrange for someone to drive you home afterward because lingering, subtle effects of the sedation will make it unsafe for you to drive until the next day.

Your doctor will also want to know if you have heart disease, lung disease, or any other medical condition that may need special attention.

The Importance of Thorough Preparation

You’re not alone if you cringe at the thought of a colonoscopy. Since most people receive a sedative and are not even awake during the actual procedure, it’s the preparation that most people dread. We’ve all heard the horror stories about bad-tasting laxatives and the constant trips to the bathroom, but it’s important to keep the end result in mind. The goal is to empty the colon completely so you can have a successful and thorough colonoscopy. What could be worse than going through the preparation and then repeating the whole process because the results were inconclusive?

Compared to the three hours that you should plan to spend at the medical center on the day of your colonoscopy, the prep day is much longer. A successful colonoscopy cannot be done without a complete cleansing, so you must follow all steps correctly. Look at it on the bright side, though. If you are at average risk and your colonoscopy is clear, you will not have to have another colonoscopy for 10 years, so give it your best!