Easing Anxiety Over Colonoscopy Prep

They say preparation is the key to success. This is especially true for colonoscopy. 

In order to have a successful exam, your colon needs to be as clean as possible. The cleaner your colon, the easier it is for your gastroenterologist to detect polyps, which are small growths on the lining of the colon that have the potential to become cancerous. 

However, in order to clean out your colon in the fastest, most efficient way, you’ll have to take some very strong laxatives. 

To be honest, preparing for a colonoscopy can be a pain in the you-know-where, but here are some tips to make for a smoother process:
 

Having a Plan

You’ll be given a set of instructions upon scheduling your colonoscopy. Read them thoroughly, and call your doctor before your appointment if you have any questions. 

In the instructions, you’ll be given a list of supplies to purchase. This list may include the name of a prescription or over-the-counter laxative, low-fiber foods and liquids safe to consume and other items that will make the process easier, like moist wipes and diaper cream. 

Stock up on these items several days before your prep day. The last thing you’ll want to do is be running out to the store halfway through the prep process.
 

Tweaking Your Diet

Preparing for a colonoscopy involves sticking to a strict diet of clear liquids for 24 hours prior to your exam. You can enjoy sports drinks, juices, clear broth, coffee or tea (without milk or creamer), popsicles and Jell-O. Just be sure nothing is tinted red, blue or purple, as these colors can stain your colon and make it harder to see polyps during the exam. 

To make the prep process even easier, consider switching to a low-fiber diet in the three or four days leading up to your procedure. Foods that are easy to digest include:

  • White breads, pastas and rice.
  • Lean meat, chicken and fish.
  • Eggs.
  • Well-cooked vegetables without skin.
  • Fruit without skin or seeds. 

Avoid the following foods:

  • Whole grains.
  • Raw fruits and vegetables.
  • Gas-producing foods such as corn, broccoli, cabbage, beans and peas.
  • Fatty foods.
  • Tough meats.
  • Seeds, nuts and popcorn. 

Talk with your doctor about whether or not you will need to stop taking any prescription or over-the-counter medications you may be using during this time.
 

Changing Your Perspective

You probably won’t enjoy the taste of the laxative solution, but there are some tricks to make it go down:

  • Mix it with something flavored, like a sports drink or powdered drink mix.
  • Put the solution in the freezer so that it’s icy cold.
  • Drink it through a straw.
  • Suck on a lemon slice after drinking it. 

Once the laxative starts working, think of the experience as a “spa cleanse.” As you’ll be in the bathroom for some time, create a relaxing environment by lighting scented candles, putting on a relaxing playlist and having a few magazines or books available to keep your mind occupied. 

Don’t forget to have your phone fully charged and within arm’s reach – you won’t be leaving your seat for a while. 

After the worst of the “emptying” has passed, treat yourself to a luxurious shower or bath, then get to bed early. 

As solid food isn’t an option until after the procedure, many patients have said going to bed at an earlier hour helped prevent them from feeling tempted to snack. 

If you’re worried about having an accident during the night or on the way to your appointment, consider wearing adult diapers. 

Though it may be inconvenient, and a little embarrassing, remember that the experience is temporary and could save your life.

 

Published on: March 19, 2018