How to make colonoscopy prep easier
It’s time to schedule your colonoscopy, but the thought of going through the prep has you doing just about anything to put it off. Cedrek McFadden, MD, said the colonoscopy prep process is much easier than it used to be. He explained what is involved in preparing for your colonoscopy and what you can do to make colonoscopy prep easier.
Why is the colonoscopy prep process important?
The purpose of a colonoscopy prep is to clean out your bowels so the physician can look for signs of colorectal cancer, such as polyps.
“It is very important to do a great prep because you want to do one prep one time,” Dr. McFadden said. “You don’t want to repeat it because the prep wasn’t adequate. We need to be able to see everything so we can find any problems that may be present.”
What is the typical prep for a colonoscopy?
There are several prep options available, including liquid and pill formats. Talk to your doctor about the best format that’s right for you.
“Most of us are no longer requiring you to consume three or four liters of a prep,” Dr. McFadden said. “Instead, it’s a much smaller volume that is split into two doses.”
With a split-dose prep, you take part of it the evening before and the other part the morning of the procedure. It can come in liquid format or as a powder that you mix with clear liquid. If it comes as a powder, you can mix it with sports drinks, soft drinks, sparkling waters – it doesn’t have to be just water.
“I advise you to mix it up the night before, put it in the fridge and drink it with a straw like you would a normal beverage,” Dr. McFadden said. “It does not have to taste bad, and you may not even notice it.”
Some other tips to make drinking the prep a little easier include:
- Don’t chug the prep! That can cause nausea. You have about 30 minutes to drink it, so take your time.
- Suck on a hard candy after drinking the prep.
- If you have a history of nausea with preps, talk to your doctor. There may be some medications they can give you beforehand that can be helpful.
Do I need to fast before my colonoscopy?
“A large portion of your diet the day before will be clear liquids, but we no longer require that you have a complete fast the day before,” Dr. McFadden said. We allow you to have some lower residue type food items as you’re prepping the morning before your colonoscopy.
- White rice or pasta without any oils, butter or sauce
- Black coffee without cream
- Hard candies or gummies
- Root beer
- Broth (doesn’t have to be from a can, something from a local restaurant might be more enjoyable)
“Some of the research shows eating lower residue foods may improve the prep quality,” Dr. McFadden said. “It also improves your energy and makes you less grumpy as you’re preparing for the colonoscopy. You just want to stay away from high-residue foods, such as foods with fiber.”
What should you do if you’re on medications?
If you take blood thinners or medication for diabetes, talk to your doctor.
“Medications used for diabetes tends to lower your blood sugars,” Dr. McFadden said. “If you’re not eating, your blood sugar is already going to be lower, so you may need to reduce your medication. Taking blood thinners before a colonoscopy can be dangerous, so talk to your doctor about holding off on those.”
What else can you do to make colonoscopy prep easier?
Stock up on soft toilet tissue and wear loose clothes. It might also help to have skin soothing products handy, such as diaper rash ointment. Once the prep starts working, you’ll want to be very close to a bathroom.
“The most important thing is to follow your prep instructions carefully,” Dr. McFadden said.
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