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Health Connection: March 2017

Your Colonoscopy: Tips to Make Prep Day Easier

Your doctor has told you it’s time to schedule a colonoscopy. To prepare, you will be modifying your diet and drinking a laxative preparation to clean out your colon to make it easy for the doctor to see any abnormalities. Actual prep instructions vary from doctor to doctor. Be sure to carefully follow the instructions you receive. The following tips can help make the whole experience a bit easier and more comfortable.

  • Arrange for the time and privacy you need to do your prep. Clear your calendar and stay home when it’s time to start. If you have children or another family member who needs your help or attention, make sure someone else is available to be there for them.
  • A few days ahead of time, you may want to stop eating things such as corn, popcorn, seeds, nuts, fruits with seeds or skins, etc. This will make for an easier prep once you get to that part.
  • Plan on each dose of prep solution taking several hours to “kick in.” Stay near the bathroom.
  • Stock up on soft toilet paper and reading materials. Flushable moistened wipes can be helpful when you start to get a bit sore after a number of bathroom trips. Diaper-rash ointment can come in handy, too.
  • Drinking the prep through a straw may help minimize the taste, as you can direct the prep toward the back of your mouth and away from most of your taste buds.
  • Between glasses of prep, you can chew gum or suck on slices of lime or lemon or hard candies. (Avoid red or purple candy, as these can stain your colon.)
  • If you get chilled on prep day (not uncommon), try putting a blanket in the dryer to warm it up before using.
  • Chilling the prep for an hour or so before you start taking it helps kill the taste.
  • Scheduling the colonoscopy for a Monday morning allows you to do the prep over the weekend, which works better for many people’s schedules.
  • If your instructions say to mix the prep with another drink, like Gatorade, or to flavor the liquid prep, don’t mix it with your favorite flavor. It will no longer be your favorite!

— Sources: American Heart Association; American Stroke

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