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Dr QM Leong
Dr QM Leong

4 Tips For A Colonoscopy Prep 

As part of efforts to prevent colorectal cancer, you cannot overstate the importance of a colonoscopy. Regular colorectal cancer screening, such as colonoscopy, is a proven method to detect and remove colon polyps before they progress to stage IV colon cancer.

An essential part of this process is colonoscopy prep, which prepares your colon for a successful colonoscopy. This blog will unpack effective colonoscopy prep tips, highlighting the significance of thorough bowel preparation.

 

Unravelling The Colonoscopy Prep

Preparing for a colonoscopy screening involves several steps to clean your colon, often called bowel preparation or bowel prep. The prep process, primarily involving a clear liquid diet and a potent prep drink (a laxative), is designed to clear out all the residue in your colon. 

Factors like age, medical history, family history of colon cancer, and dietary habits can affect how you respond to the prep.

 

Colonoscopy Prep Tips

Navigating the colonoscopy prep process might seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. The process becomes much easier when you’re equipped with the right tips and techniques to guide you. 

Change Your Diet Days Before Prep Begins

The days leading up to your colonoscopy prep are just as important as the prep day itself. Start by making some dietary modifications. Moving towards a low-fibre diet can significantly aid the prep process, and this should start a few days before your prep day. 

Some examples of low-fibre food include:

  • Foods with refined sugars (white bread and white rice)
  • Corn
  • Chicken
  • Lean beef
  • Boneless fish
  • Eggs
  • Tofu
  • Yoghurt
  • Milk (except nut-based milk)
  • Mushrooms
  • Fruit juices (seedless and without pulp)

Whole grains, raw fruits, and vegetables can be more challenging to clear from your colon, so these should be avoided. Another critical element is to limit the intake of red meat and whole-grain bread. 

Foods like these leave residue in the colon, making the cleansing process less effective. Remember, the main objective of the whole prep process is to ensure a clear view of the colon for the colorectal surgeon. Thus, modifying your diet for a few days could make your colonoscopy prep much more effective and contribute to a successful colonoscopy.

Drink The Colonoscopy Prep Laxative Cold

One of the central elements of your prep will be the prep drink, which is often a potent laxative drink. Granted, it may not be the most enjoyable beverage you’ve ever tasted. However, drinking it cold can help to improve its taste, and many patients have found this trick to make the prep drink easier to swallow.

Consider adding a flavour packet, such as Crystal Light or Kool-Aid powder, to the laxative drink. This can make the drink taste better, but it’s crucial to avoid using red or purple dye, which could be mistaken for blood during the procedure. 

The important thing is to follow your doctor’s instructions diligently when preparing and consuming the prep solution. Every detail matters; your prep drink is no exception in the quest for an effective colonoscopy prep.

Double Check When To Start Your Prep

The timing of your colonoscopy prep is another vital element of the process. Often, doctors recommend a split prep, which involves drinking half of the liquid prep the evening before the procedure, usually around 6 p.m., and the other half approximately 4 to 6 hours before the actual procedure on the day of the colonoscopy.

The split prep approach ensures that the laxative effects remain active during the procedure, leading to a more effective colonoscopy.

However, remember that prep instructions can vary depending on many factors, including your medical history and your doctor’s specific recommendations. So, double-check the exact time you’re supposed to start the prep. It may seem like a minor detail, but getting the timing right can significantly affect your prep’s efficiency and the colonoscopy’s success.

Choose Delicious Treats For The Liquid Diet

During your prep day, your dietary options will be limited to clear liquids. While the concept of a clear liquid diet may initially sound unappealing, rest assured you can enjoy many delicious treats. Ice pops (without red or purple colouring), hard candy, chicken broth, apple juice, and clear broth are some of the choices you have.

Sports drinks can be beneficial, too, due to their electrolyte content, but avoid red or purple colours. The key is to maintain a positive mindset and treat the prep day as an opportunity to try out different clear liquids you may not typically include in your diet. Despite the restrictions, you can still make your prep day enjoyable, making the colonoscopy prep easier to navigate.

Importance Of Post-Prep Care

After all the prep is done, focusing on your recovery period post-preparation is essential. In most cases, colonoscopy preps are safe and straightforward, but allowing your body to recover is still important.

During the colonoscopy procedure, a flexible tube is inserted into the colon to look for and remove any polyps. Many patients find the procedure itself to be much less daunting than the prep.

To ensure a smooth recovery post-colonoscopy, drink water regularly to replenish fluids lost during the preparation and procedure. If you experience discomfort due to frequent bowel movements, products like baby wipes, wet wipes, and soft toilet paper can be soothing. Some patients also find applying baby rash ointment or diaper cream helpful.

As of 2023, colonoscopy remains a vital tool in the fight against colon cancer. Following these colonoscopy prep tips will not only make the prep process more comfortable but could potentially save your life. The few hours spent in preparation and the visit to the doctor’s office for the procedure are time well spent.

 

Conclusion On Colonoscopy Prep Tips

A colonoscopy, while critical, may seem daunting. However, with our guide, the prep process can be navigated with ease and comfort. The tips discussed, ranging from dietary adjustments to the timing of your prep, aim to optimise your experience and contribute to a successful procedure. 

By preparing diligently, you aid doctors in getting a clear view of your colon, making the procedure smoother for you and more effective for them. 

While the prep may be demanding, remember that it paves the way for a potentially life-saving procedure, transforming a few hours of preparation into a gateway for prolonged health.

Considering a colonoscopy screening? Schedule a consultation with professional colorectal surgeon, Dr Leong and understand the costs and other factors associated with the procedure.

 His expertise lies in diagnosing colon/colorectal cancer, and addressing a range of colorectal problems like:

 

Frequently Asked Questions On Colonoscopy Prep Tips

What Is The Role Of A Colonoscopy In The Detection Of Colorectal Cancer?

A colonoscopy plays a crucial role in the detection of colorectal cancer. It is the most effective method for identifying colon polyps, which are the precursors to most colon cancers. By detecting and removing these polyps early, a colonoscopy can help prevent the development of colorectal cancer. Additionally, it can detect early-stage colorectal cancer, where treatment can be more effective.

Why Can’t I Eat Red Or Purple Foods During My Colonoscopy Prep?

Red or purple foods or drinks with these colours are discouraged during colonoscopy prep because they can stain the intestine’s lining. This can be mistaken for blood or inflammation during the colonoscopy, potentially leading to unnecessary further testing or an unclear examination.

Is It Normal To Feel Discomfort Or Bloating After The Procedure?

Yes, it is normal to feel bloating or cramping after a colonoscopy due to the air that is introduced into the colon during the procedure. This discomfort is generally mild and goes away naturally as the air is passed out. Walking can also help relieve these symptoms.

How Frequently Should I Undergo A Colonoscopy?

Individuals with an average risk of colorectal cancer are recommended to have a colonoscopy every ten years starting at the age of 50. However, those with a higher risk, such as people with a family history of colorectal cancer or certain genetic syndromes, may need to start screening earlier and more frequently. Always consult your doctor to determine the most appropriate screening schedule.

What If I Feel Too Ill To Complete The Prep Process?

If you feel too ill to complete the prep process, it’s important to call your doctor or nurse. They could suggest ways to manage the side effects you’re experiencing, or they could reschedule the procedure. It’s important not to attempt to force yourself through the process if you’re feeling extremely unwell.