Tips for Making Your Colonoscopy More Bearable

colonoscopy tips, colonoscopy prep
June 18, 2024


Receiving a colonoscopy is critical for your colon health, but too many individuals believe that this procedure is only necessary when a problem occurs. Of course, if you are experiencing specific colon issues, we may recommend a colonoscopy. However, if you are over the age of 45, it’s time to contact a doctor for a colonoscopy as a regular cancer screening process. This routine procedure is highly effective at finding issues while they are still easily treatable. 

We understand that the procedure can be nerve-wracking for many people. To put your mind at ease, we’ve come up with some professional guidelines to help you make your colonoscopy more bearable. Primarily, we’ll focus on what you can do to prepare for the treatment, along with some post-treatment tips as well. 

Change Your Diet In The Lead-Up To Your Colonoscopy

When you first schedule your colonoscopy, your doctor will provide a list of foods that you shouldn’t eat the week before. The list will include nuts, dried fruits, and other “high residue” foods that can make it harder for your doctor to see inside your colon during the procedure.

Follow these directions closely, spending the week before your colonoscopy eating a low-fiber diet. Fiber makes food harder to digest, so having too much can make it more challenging to empty your bowels. If you eat too much fiber or “high residue” food during this time, your doctor may not be able to see clearly, and may have to reschedule your colonoscopy—meaning you have to go through the preparation phase all over again.

We suggest eating smaller meals as well to make it even easier to prepare for the treatment. Try to take a digestive tea if possible; this will help you go to the bathroom in the days leading up to the laxative phase. Plus, it’s a nice calming treat!

Drink Your Prep Solution Cold

Naturally, the only way to ensure that your bowels are empty is to drink a prep solution. Your doctor will recommend which one to purchase—additionally, they may give you a prescription such as GoLytely or its generic form, polyethylene glycol. For most people, this is the most uncomfortable part of a colonoscopy. 

These drinks aren’t very tasty and can make some people feel nauseous. However, we’ve found that for many patients, drinking them very cold and through a straw makes the process much more tolerable. The straw helps you pace yourself and the temperature makes the taste less pronounced. We recommend putting your prep solution in the fridge a few hours before you have to start taking it. 

Mentally Prepare For What’s About To Unfold

The purpose of colonoscopy prep is to make you have bowel movements. So, get ready for this to happen and realize that you’re likely to have sudden bowel movements at a moment’s notice—and many of them. Therefore, don’t plan to do anything the day before your treatment. Get ready to be near the bathroom all day, and keep things in there to pass the time, like a nice book. 

Prioritize your comfort. If you prepare to treat yourself kindly—almost like you would a sick child—that’ll make the whole thing a lot more pleasant. For instance, many people experience chills in the prep phase, which is completely normal. So prepare to have a cozy blanket and some socks just in case (even in the summertime).

Our last pro tip for comfort? Invest in some soothing bathroom wipes! 

Understand What Happens After Your Colonoscopy

Patients often spend so much time preparing for the treatment they don’t actually know what to expect when it’s over. It’s a good idea to stay upright once the sedative has worn off as you will feel bloated after the procedure. This is because there is more air in your colon, so your body is looking to release it. Expect to be gassy, though walking around can help with this. 

Don’t be shocked if there is some blood with your first bowel movement too; this is normal. If it keeps happening, then you should call your doctor to voice your concerns. In terms of what you should eat, stick to light meals that are good for the digestive system for the first day or two. Drink plenty of water, and gradually start adding fiber back to your diet. 

The actual colonoscopy is easy to deal with because you are sound asleep under anesthesia. However, it is important to take the right measures before and after the treatment to make everything as bearable as possible. 

Contact Alabama Colon & Rectal Institute For More Information

If you’re 45 and have never had a colonoscopy—or you want to know if you need one—please contact Alabama Colon & Rectal Institute today. We use the latest techniques and technologies to make your treatment plan comfortable and effective. And we’re more than happy to provide further tips, tricks, and recommendations for making this important preventative measure as bearable as possible!

Alabama Colon & Rectal Institute: Colonoscopy Services in Birmingham, AL

ACRI’s board-certified colon and rectal physicians have been in business for over 30 years. Our physicians understand that each patient is unique, which is why we create customized treatment plans to ensure we meet the patient's conditions. Drs. Jon Rosser, Mark Parker, and Heath Beckham work together with our staff to ensure that you receive knowledgeable service while creating a comfortable environment in a potentially uncomfortable situation. Give us a call at 205-537-8639 or email us at [email protected] to book an appointment. 

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