Older man drinks a glass of water in his bathroom as he does colonoscopy prep

4 Ways to Make Colonoscopy Prep Easier  

Colonoscopies can save lives. But preparing for a colonoscopy isn’t the easiest process. You need to completely empty your colon before the procedure. Always make sure to read and follow all the instructions provided by your doctor to help you prepare for the procedure. 

And doctors mean it when they say it must be empty. If the doctors and technicians can’t clearly see the insides of your bowels, then you might have to repeat the procedure. That’s because studies have shown in instances where patients did not completely clear their bowels, it was more likely that precancerous polyps were missed during the colonoscopy.  

Your health care provider will make the final decision as to how you’ll prepare for a colonoscopy. Generally, doctors will prescribe a liquid, drinkable laxative. It’s often referred to as the “prep.” It triggers high-volume diarrhea.  

Doctors will provide instructions about how and when to drink the laxative. Typically, it’s first consumed in the afternoon or evening before the procedure. 

You’ll want to prepare your body several days in advance of taking the laxative to make the process easier. Switch to a diet that’s low in fiber – which means no whole grains, nuts, seeds, dried fruits or any raw fruits or vegetables. The day before the colonoscopy when you take your laxative, switch to a diet of clear liquids only. This includes black coffee or tea, clear broth or bouillon, clear juices like apple or white grape and clear pop or sports drinks. 

After preparing your home and clearing your schedule, follow your doctor’s instructions for taking the laxative.   

Here are four ways to make the prep easier:  

  1. Chill the drink. Often, the laxative doesn’t taste good. Keeping the drink cold can make it easier to drink. 
  2. Use a straw. Drinking the laxative through a straw can help you bypass your tastebuds.  
  3. Split the drink. Consult with your health care provider first. You may be able to divide the laxative between the evening of the day before your colonoscopy and the morning of your colonoscopy, or even take small sips throughout the day.  
  4. Consider timing. If your doctor advises you start the laxative at 9 p.m. the night before your colonoscopy, ask your doctor if you can begin to take it several hours earlier in the evening. Beginning a laxative at 9 p.m. might result in trips to the bathroom all night long, and completely disrupts your sleep cycle. 

Colonoscopies are recommended for everyone beginning at age 45. If nothing out of the ordinary is found during the procedure, it’s advised you won’t need another colonoscopy for 10 years, up until age 75.   

Learn more about colorectal cancer, screening and resources at www.bcbsm.com/colorectal.   

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Care Network cover colorectal screenings for most members beginning at age 45 to align with the recommendation of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. For more information, click here. 

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