Four Tips to Prepare for Your First Colonoscopy

Four Tips to Prepare for Your First Colonoscopy

Colonoscopy often gets a bad rap for its prep process, but preparation is actually a lot simpler than you might think. Getting ready ahead of time is a good way to stay comfortable and relaxed.

As a top-rated proctologist in Deerfield Beach, Florida, Michael H. Tarlowe, MD, performs colonoscopies using the most advanced techniques for accurate results. If you have a colonoscopy in your near future, here are four easy ways to prepare.

1. Prepare your diet

Even before your actual prep begins, you can get your bowel ready by adjusting your diet a little bit in the 3-4 days leading up to your colonoscopy. In general, you should focus on smaller, lighter meals and include plenty of fluids. These changes can help your bowel move more frequently on its own prior to prep.

Dr. Tarlowe provides you with complete instructions prior to your colonoscopy, but in general, it’s best to avoid foods like:

Instead, focus on “blander” options, like:

If you take any medication or supplements — even over-the-counter products or vitamins — let Dr. Tarlowe know, so he can tell you when (and if) you should stop taking them.

2. Prepare your prep

Before your colonoscopy, you’ll need to completely empty your bowel to make it easier for Dr. Tarlowe to look for polyps or other abnormal tissue. For most people, that means drinking a special solution designed to clear out your bowel the evening before your colonoscopy.

This is the part of prep that a lot of people dread, but it’s not as bad as it sounds. You can make the solution a lot more palatable by chilling it thoroughly or flavoring it with a drink powder. Stick with a light color; dark colors might interfere with the effectiveness of your procedure. 

The solution isn’t exactly tasty, so using a straw is another good option. Keeping some pale-colored hard candy on hand to suck on afterward can help, too.

3. Prepare your bathroom

Shortly after you begin drinking the prep solution, you’ll need to empty your bowels repeatedly. If you have more than one bathroom, set aside one for your sole use during prep so you don’t have interruptions. 

Apply some diaper cream when you start drinking the solution to avoid irritating tender skin, and stock up on moist wipes. Repeatedly wiping with toilet paper can quickly lead to skin irritation.

Since you’ll be spending quite a bit of time on the toilet during your prep, it’s also a good idea to have something on hand to keep you occupied. Books or magazines are good options, along with your phone, puzzle books, or even a small television.

4. Prepare for recovery

Colonoscopy is performed while you’re sedated, which means you probably nap throughout the entire process. Afterward, you go to a recovery area while you wake up — but you’ll still be groggy. (You’ll also be bloated and gassy, which is completely normal.)

You certainly need to arrange to have someone with you who can drive you home. And you should also be prepared to nap for the rest of the day. You won’t be able to drive until the sedative wears off completely. 

You’ll also be hungry. After a fast, you might be tempted to binge your way through a hearty lunch, but doing so can leave you with an upset stomach, craps, or even diarrhea. For the first day, it’s best to stick with small amounts of liquids, soft foods, and “bland” options, like:

Stay away from carbonated beverages and anything that could irritate your digestive tract.

Don’t put off your colonoscopy

Most people only need to have a colonoscopy once every 10 years. People with higher risk factors for colorectal cancer (including a family history of the disease) may need more frequent screenings. In any case, the entire process — from prep to recovery — takes less than 24 hours, a small investment to help prevent the deadly effects of colorectal cancer.

Don’t put your health on hold. If you’ve been delaying having a colonoscopy or if you’d like to learn more about the process, call 954-256-1842 or book an appointment online with Dr. Tarlowe today.

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