Colonoscopy is the gold standard for colorectal cancer screening, using a minimally invasive technique aimed at locating even small intestinal growths (called polyps) so they can be removed and evaluated.
At our practice in Deerfield Beach, Florida, Michael Tarlowe, MD, uses advanced colonoscopy techniques for the highest degree of diagnostic accuracy. If a colonoscopy is in your future, here’s how you can prepare.
A few days before your colonoscopy
In order to evaluate your colon, it needs to be free of stool. So colonoscopy prep begins a few days before your procedure to help prepare your bowel. Our office provides detailed instructions to help you prepare.
To get ready for your colonoscopy, you should start reducing the amount of fiber in your diet 2-3 days before your procedure. Limit consumption of whole grains, beans, raw or dried fruit, nuts, and seeds. Why? Because while fiber is generally good for bowel health, it might irritate your bowel prior to your colonoscopy.
The day before your procedure, you’ll need to switch to a clear liquid diet. That includes liquids like clear broth, apple juice, sports drinks, popsicles, and coffee or tea without cream or milk. You’ll maintain that clear diet on the day of your procedure, too, typically stopping liquids a couple of hours before your colonoscopy.
The night before: bowel prep
The evening before your colonoscopy, you’ll need to prepare your bowel by emptying it completely. To do that, you’ll probably need to consume a special liquid. For many people, this is the part of prep that they dread most.
The good news: While the liquid may not be the best-tasting drink you’ve ever had, there are some things you can do to make it more palatable, like:
- Chilling it well beforehand
- Drinking it through a straw
- Adding lemon or lime juice (without pulp)
- Stirring in drink powder (nothing red, blue, or purple)
Some patients may be able to skip the drink and have their prep in pill form.
Prep makes you move your bowels—a lot. Once the bowel prep has begun, you’ll need to stay near a toilet. Clear your schedule for this part of your prep, and if children or others depend on your care, arrange for someone else to take over your duties.
You’ll be spending a lot of time on the toilet, so you might want to have a laptop, some books, or other simple distractions on hand. It’s also a good idea to stock up on moist wipes, along with diaper cream or petroleum jelly to soothe your skin if it gets irritated.
The day of your procedure
Stick with your liquid diet, stopping liquids as directed in your instruction packet. Wear comfortable clothes to your appointment, and be sure to have someone accompany you, as you won’t be allowed to drive yourself home after being sedated.
After your colonoscopy, you’ll go to a recovery area where you’ll be monitored for a short period before being discharged. You can expect to feel groggy while the sedation wears off, and you’ll also be bloated.
That’s because Dr. Tarlowe will pump some air into your colon during the colonoscopy to make your bowel easier to see. That air needs to come out—so expect to be gassy, and don’t hold back.
You’ll probably be hungry after your colonoscopy, too, but you should avoid the urge to binge. Your bowel may still be a little irritated from your prep, and sedation can make some people a little nauseous. Eat small meals or snacks to get your bowel “on track” again and avoid feeling bloated or nauseous.
Schedule your colonoscopy today
Although colorectal cancer screening is on the rise, roughly a third of patients who could benefit from screening still don’t have it done, leaving them at risk of undetected cancer. Don’t put off your own screening. To learn more, call 954-256-1842 or book an appointment online with Dr. Tarlowe today.