The American College of Gastroenterology recommends a colonoscopy screening every 10 years beginning at age 50 to aid in the early detection of colon and rectal cancers. Before the colonoscopy, you will be directed to follow a clear liquid diet and take a preparation medication to cleanse your colon. Let me explain why this is necessary for a successful colonoscopy. I will also offer some tips to make the experience easier.
Why Do I Need To “Prep” For A Colonoscopy?
Before your colonoscopy, you must follow the preparation or “prep” instructions to ensure your colon is completely cleansed. This allows your gastroenterologist to properly view your colon. In a poorly prepped colon, the views of the mucosa can be severely compromised. This means lesions, polyps, or masses may be missed. It also means you may need to repeat the colonoscopy, which is very frustrating. I like to tell my patients that performing a colonoscopy with poor preparation is comparable to driving a car in a snowstorm.
The Clear Liquid Diet
You will follow a clear liquid diet the day prior to your colonoscopy beginning at breakfast. Your physician will provide you with a list of clear liquids. You can also eat ice chips if you want something with crunch. Liquids and Jell-O that contain red or purple dyes should be avoided, as these colors can make colonoscopy results difficult to interpret.
You should continue to consume clear liquids up until 4 hours prior to your colonoscopy.
You will take the prescribed “prep” or laxative medication, which causes diarrhea… so your colon can be cleansed. There are many types of medication. Your physician will choose the best “prep” medication for you based on your preferences, prior experience, and cost. You will also be told exactly how and when to take this medication. (Timing of the medication depends on many factors, including the time of your colonoscopy.)
Let me offer some helpful tips to help you in this stage of the process:
Remember, you need to have a responsible adult drive you to and take you home with this procedure. Please do not use taxis or other car services (Uber or Lyft) for your transportation. Someone must be at the facility with you while you have the procedure.
To learn more about what to expect during your colonoscopy, check out this blog post from Dr. Flynn.
Contact Richmond Gastroenterology Associates today to to help protect your health.