How to Prepare for a Colonoscopy
Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in men in the U.S. and the third leading cause for women. A colonoscopy is one of the main tests used to screen for colorectal cancer, and it’s recommended that you start getting this procedure at age 50 if your risk for developing colorectal cancer is average. If you’re at higher risk, you should be tested earlier.
Many people get nervous at the thought of a colonoscopy, but the anticipation is often worse than the actual colonoscopy preparation and procedure. And since the test can detect cancer as well as pre-cancerous polyps, the benefits of having the test are enormous.
In this blog, the NYC gastroenterologists at Gramercy Park Digestive Disease Center (GPDDC) explain how you prepare for a colonoscopy, as well as how you can make it a little easier.
What is a colonoscopy?
This procedure allows your doctor to check your large intestine (which includes your rectum and colon) for issues related to colon cancer.
After you’re given medication to make you feel relaxed and drowsy, you’ll lie on your left side. Your doctor will insert a thin, flexible lighted tube with a tiny camera at the end into your rectum to look for signs of abnormalities in your large intestine. These can include polyps, inflammation, tumors, and ulcers, and your doctor can remove them during your colonoscopy or take a tiny sample (biopsy) for further testing.
Why is colonoscopy preparation important?
Preparing for your colonoscopy is a very important part of your procedure since it cleans out your bowel. Your doctor will then be able to thoroughly examine your colon and see any abnormalities that may be present.
What does colonoscopy preparation involve?
Your doctor will give you oral medication (often to dissolve in water and drink) that will help empty your colon by causing diarrhea.
You’ll also need to stop eating solid foods for a day or two before your procedure and drink only clear fluids such as water, tea, and apple juice. Black coffee is also OK. You should avoid drinking anything that’s red, blue, or purple and stop fluids completely two hours before your colonoscopy.
How can you make colonoscopy preparation easier?
Colonoscopy preparation isn’t pleasant since the solution you’ll be drinking doesn’t taste good and you’ll be making a lot of trips to the bathroom. There are a few things you can do to make it easier:
- Stay at home after you take your prep, since you’ll be going to the bathroom a lot
- Wear loose clothing so you can go to the bathroom quickly
- Stay close to the bathroom, perhaps hanging out in the bedroom with your laptop, books, or TV
- Stock your bathroom with some adult wet wipes containing aloe or other soothing ingredients
- Add some Crystal Light powder to your solution (don’t use red, blue, or purple)
- Put your solution in the refrigerator so you’re drinking it cold
- Use a straw to drink your solution so it bypasses your taste buds
- Hold your nose and drink your solution as quickly as possible
Where can you get a colonoscopy in NYC?
GPDDC offers gastroenterology services such as colonoscopies to patients through the metro NYC area and beyond. We’re a state-certified Ambulatory Surgery Center, and our doctors are dedicated to providing high-quality healthcare services in a compassionate manner and a convenient setting.
If you’re age 50 or older or are younger and have risk factors such as a family history of colorectal cancer, make an appointment today with GPDDC by calling (212) 979-3237.