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Preparing for Your Colonoscopy

Preparing for a colonoscopy may be uncomfortable and time-consuming, but it needn’t be an ordeal. Here are some things you can do to help it go as smoothly and comfortably as possible.

Make sure you receive your colonoscopy prep instructions well before your procedure date, and read them completely as soon as you get them.

  1. You’ll need to stop certain medications and foods up to a week ahead of time.
  2. This is also the time to call your clinician with any questions and to buy the bowel prep she or he has prescribed.
  3. Pick up some medicated wipes (for example, Tucks or adult wet wipes with aloe and vitamin E) and a skin-soothing product such as Vaseline or Desitin — you’re going to be experiencing high-volume, high-velocity diarrhea.
  4. Arrange for the time and privacy you need to complete the prep with as little stress as possible. Clear your schedule, and be at home on time to start your prep. If you have children or aging parents who need attention, have someone else be available to them while you’re indisposed.
  5. Water can get boring and can increase nausea, so keep a variety of clear liquids on hand. On the day before your colonoscopy — when you’re restricted to clear liquids — you can have popsicles, Jell-O, clear boullion- not broth, coffee or tea (without milk or creamer), soft drinks, Italian ice, or Gatorade. But take nothing with red, blue, or purple dye- this can interfere with the test results.
  6. It may seem like you are drinking plenty with the prep, but it is dehydrating, as it is designed to clean out the colon. Be sure to drink extra liquids before, during, and after your bowel prep until midnight as well as after your colonoscopy. The more you replace the fluid as you are drinking your prep, the less likely you are to experience symptoms of nausea or headaches, and it will make getting intravenous access for your procedure easier.
  7. To make a bad-tasting liquid prep easier to swallow, try one or more of the following: add some Crystal Light or Kool-Aid powder (again, not red, blue, or purple); add some ginger or lime; drink it chilled; drink it through a straw placed far back on your tongue; hold your nose and drink it as quickly as possible; suck on a hard candy after each glass; keep a clear fluid such as boullion or clear soda nearby, and for every glass of prep, follow immediately with a glass of the other liquid. This will help get the taste out of your mouth as well as rehydrate you.
  8. Wear loose clothing, and stay near the bathroom. Better yet, once the preparation starts to work, stay in the bathroom — because when the urge hits, it’s hard to hold back. Consider setting up shop near the toilet with music, your laptop, magazines, or books.

Your colonoscopy procedure at SGMC

Day of Procedure

  • Since you are given sedative medications, you will not be allowed to drive the day of your procedure. You must have a designated driver.
  • Please be sure to bring your medication bottles with you, including over the counter medicines, so the nurse can verify the medications that you take.
  • Only one visitor is permitted per patient, and children under the age of 12 will be required to remain in the first floor lobby. You may have a cell phone, but please refrain from cell phone use in the lab. There are designated areas for cell phone use.
  • When you arrive, you will register in the main lobby on the first floor and be prepared for your procedure in the Observation area in the Endoscopy Lab, where your history and physical will be obtained and documented.
  • Please let the staff know of any concerns or significant health issues, as we want to assure your safety.
  • If ordered, lab work will be drawn.
  • The procedure itself takes approximately 20-40 minutes, and is performed in a separate procedure room in the Lab.
  • Please know that your privacy and comfort is of utmost importance, and staff is focused on providing privacy and dignity; please let your health care provider know of any questions or concerns you have.

After the Procedure

After the test you will be observed and monitored by a qualified individual in the endoscopy or a recovery area until a significant portion of the medication has worn off, which is generally about 30 minutes, although it may be longer depending on your response to the medication. Occasionally you may have some nausea from the medication on an empty stomach; if so, notify your nurse so we can provide relief.

You may also have a feeling of bloating or cramping from the air that was used during the procedure. You will be encouraged to expel the air to minimize the cramps and any nausea. Both problems are mild and will go away.

When you are discharged, you may engage in limited activities for the rest of the day. For your safety, you are restricted from returning to work, driving, operating any hazardous machinery or consuming alcohol until the next day. You should expect to resume all normal activities the following morning.