If you’re 45 years old or older, a screening colonoscopy could save your life. The American Cancer Society estimates that approximately 53,000 people will die from colorectal cancers in 2020 alone. Most people don’t dread the procedure itself, but rather the preparation period that is required before the colonoscopy begins. In order to make sure your colon is clean enough for the procedure, you’ll need to alter your diet a few days before the procedure and take laxatives to clear out any fecal matter.
Please don’t let the idea of uncomfortable colonoscopy prep convince you to put off having this vital procedure. If you’ve had a colonoscopy before or if you’re due for your first, you may be wondering how you can make the entire process easier. We’ve gathered answers to some of your most Frequently Asked Questions and put them all in one place to create a one-stop shop to make your next colonoscopy as simple as possible.
What to Eat Before a Colonoscopy?
About 48 hours before your colonoscopy, it’s generally advised to begin a low-fiber diet, since fiber residue can stay in the colon during the procedure and block visibility. To be the most beneficial, it’s best to avoid raw vegetables and fruits, red meat, whole grains, fried or heavy foods, nuts, and seeds. Suggested alternative foods include soups, smoothies, steamed vegetables, pasta, rice, eggs, pasta, chicken, salmon, and other light-colored foods.
Can I Eat 24 Hours Before a Colonoscopy?
On the day before your colonoscopy, you should begin a clear liquid diet. You shouldn’t consume any solid foods for 24 hours prior to the colonoscopy, so stick to clear liquids like gelatin, broth or bouillon, clear juices such as white grape or apple, clear carbonated drinks like flavored sparkling water, ginger ale, or Sprite, sports drinks such as Gatorade, Powerade, or Pedialyte, water, popsicles, and black coffee or tea. It is important to remain hydrated throughout the prep period in order to keep your electrolytes balanced. Once you hit two hours before your procedure is scheduled, however, you should stop consuming the clear liquids too.
How to Drink Colonoscopy Prep Without Throwing Up?
Each gastroenterologist chooses their own colonoscopy prep and gives different instructions for how and when to begin the prep. Please follow your physician’s specific directions, but what follows are general tips to make colonoscopy prep more palatable.
Originally, colonoscopy prep was only available in a one-gallon liquid that had to be consumed in one sitting. In recent years, however, there are more options available, and many of them can be taken in two doses. The first dose is often taken the night before and the second dose is consumed six hours before the procedure is scheduled to begin.
If you have a history of becoming nauseated easily or if you’ve previously had trouble consuming colonoscopy prep, it may be beneficial for you to take an anti-nausea medication beforehand, such as Zofran.
Some people also recommend drinking the colonoscopy prep cold and sipping it through a straw to make it more palatable. In order to best tolerate the multiple bathroom trips, we recommend keeping good, plush toilet paper and wet wipes within reach. You may also want to use diaper cream, Vaseline, or coconut oil to soothe irritation.
Elastic waist pants are also a must-have once the laxative begins working. And please, make sure you follow your doctor’s prep instructions exactly. It would be a shame if you went through the prep for hours beforehand, only to be sent home because your colon isn’t adequately clean.
What Can I Eat After a Colonoscopy?
Technically, once your procedure is finished, you can eat anything you want. In fact, you’ll probably be pretty hungry after the anesthesia wears off. But if you rush to eat a heavy, greasy meal, you’ll most likely regret it! People who have been through successful colonoscopy procedures recommend probiotics and avoiding spicy foods for the first few days after a colonoscopy.
Digestive Health Centers of Dallas Can Help!
If you have any further questions or would like any more information, please feel free to contact Digestive Health Centers of Dallas. One of our board certified, fellowship-trained gastroenterologists would be happy to schedule a consultation to help ease your colonoscopy fears.