March 28, 2019

Colonoscopy Prep Isn’t So Bad

General Health

If you’ve heard colonoscopy stories from your friends or relatives, chances are they’ve mentioned that the preparation, or “prep,” is the most unpleasant part of the exam.

Although most people agree that consuming nothing but clear liquids and drinking a large amount of laxative liquid is not an ideal way to spend a day, you should know that colonoscopy prep isn’t as bad as you think. Here are four reasons why.

A good prep leads to a successful colonoscopy.

The purpose of your prep is to empty your bowels so your doctor can spot signs of colorectal cancer and small growths called colon polyps, which can turn into cancer in 5-10 years if left untreated.By doing your prep exactly as ordered, you are increasing the chances that your doctor will be able to prevent colorectal cancer by finding and removing difficult-to-spot colon polyps. And, you’re lowering the chances that you will need a repeat exam.

There are a variety of preps available.

Colonoscopy preps are available in different flavors, forms and liquid volumes, so you should work with your doctor to find the prep that is right for you—especially if you have a specific concern or worry. Although you will still have to drink a lot of liquid no matter which prep you choose, preps with a lower liquid volume are available.

You can prepare for prep day.

Being prepared for prep day can make a big difference in your overall comfort. You should:

  • Arrange to be home during your prep.
  • Purchase supplies, including soft toilet paper, flushable wipes, diaper cream or ointment for anal skin irritation and books or magazines for entertainment.
  • Stock up on clear liquids, such as coffee/tea, broth, gelatin and ice pops.
  • Purchase your prep itself, as well as a clear liquid or powdered drink mix, such as Kool-Aid or Crystal Light, to mix it with if it is unflavored.
  • Cut back on high-fiber foods and eat smaller meals starting a few days in advance.

You only have to prep once in a while

If you have a successful colonoscopy with normal results, you will probably not need another colonoscopy for several years— usually 5-10 — depending on your doctor’s recommendation. Knowing that you only have to do the prep once in a while can make it easier to get through even the most uncomfortable moments.