How To Prepare
Before you have a colonoscopy, tell
your doctor if you:
- Are taking any medicines, such as
insulin or medicines for
arthritis. Check with your doctor about which
medicines you need to take on the day of your test.
- Are allergic to
any medicines, including
- Have bleeding problems or
take aspirin or other blood thinners.
- Had an X-ray test using barium, such as a barium enema, in the
last 4 days.
- Are or might be pregnant.
You may be asked to stop taking aspirin products or iron
supplements 7 to 14 days before the test. If you take blood-thinning medicines
regularly, discuss with your doctor how to manage your medicine.
You will be asked to sign a consent form that says you understand the
risks of the test and agree to have it done.
Talk to your doctor about
any concerns you have regarding the need for the test, its risks, how it will
be done, or what the results will mean. To help you understand the importance
of this test, fill out the
medical test information form (What is a PDF document?).
Arrange to have someone take you home after the test,
because you may be given a medicine (sedative) to
help you relax before the test.
Before this test, you will need to
clean out your colon. The following information gives you a general idea of the
preparation for a colonoscopy. Your doctor will give you specific instructions
before your test.
- One to two days before a colonoscopy, you will stop eating solid
foods and drink only clear fluids, such as water, tea, coffee, clear juices,
clear broths, flavored ice pops, and gelatin (such as Jell-O). Do not drink anything
red or purple, such as grape juice or fruit punch. And do not eat red or purple
foods, such as grape ice pops or cherry gelatin.
- Your doctor will recommend a medicine for you to use to prepare for your colonoscopy. It will most likely be a prescription
laxative tablet and/or a laxative solution (such as Nulytely or Golytely) that you drink before your colonoscopy. This solution will be given to you as a powder
that you will mix with
1 gal (3.8 L) of water. You may need to drink this laxative solution over 1 to 2 hours in the evening before the test. Or you may be asked to drink half the solution the evening before your test and the other half the morning of your test. This solution
may taste very salty and may make you feel sick to your stomach. To make your
colon prep easier, you may want to try some of the following tips:
- You may find it easier to drink the solution if you use a straw with the end at the back of your throat (to bypass the taste buds).
- Each time you drink some of the solution,
you may also drink some water or clear fluids (like apple juice) to help get
rid of the salty taste in your mouth.
- You may find it easier to
drink the solution if you chill it in the refrigerator first.
your doctor if it is okay for you to add flavored drink crystals (such as
Crystal Light) to the solution.
- Add lemon juice to the solution or
suck on sliced lemon wedges after you take a drink.
- Your doctor may recommend a different preparation product, such as the
Nutraprep meal kit or sodium phosphate tablets (for example, Visicol). These are other methods
of preparing for a colonoscopy. If you are concerned about the standard bowel prep, you can ask your doctor whether another method will
work for you.
- Oral sodium phosphate (either tablets or liquid) can cause kidney problems. Make sure you check with your doctor before using a nonprescription sodium phosphate product.
- You will want to stay home while doing the colon prep, because the colon prep will make you use the bathroom
- Drink plenty of clear fluids during the prep so you will not
dehydrated. This will also help clean out your colon
completely after you finish the colon prep.
- Do not eat any solid
foods after doing the colon prep.
- Stop drinking clear
liquids 6 to 8 hours before the colonoscopy.
- Your doctor may have
you use an enema 30 to 60 minutes before the test to completely clean out your
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Arvydas D. Vanagunas, MD - Gastroenterology
December 7, 2011
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