Ways to Enhance Your Colonoscopy Preparation and Minimize Discomfort

Colorectal cancer ranks as the third primary cause of oncological deaths for both genders in the U.S. and the second highest oncological mortality worldwide. However, there’s optimistic information: It is among the best preventable types of cancer. This is partly due to colonoscopic exams, wherein physicians inspect your large bowel with an instrument. A colonoscopy is deemed the most reliable screening method for colorectal cancer since it enables physicians to excise polyps — diminutive growths in the colon — before they become malignant. It can also aid in the identification of colorectal cancer and other conditions like inflammatory bowel disease.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force advocates for colorectal cancer screenings for adults aged between 45 and 75. The average person requires a screening once every decade; however, individuals with an elevated risk for colorectal cancer may need their initial colonoscopy sooner. For example, those with chronic bowel issues, a familial occurrence of colon polyps, or a history of colorectal cancer in the family may need an earlier screening, Dr. Heather Sharkey, an assistant clinical professor at the University of New England, advises Yahoo Life. The subsequent procedure might be scheduled within five years or sooner, depending on discoveries like polyps, she remarks.

Colonoscopies are seldom associated with discomfort, Dr. Lance Uradomo, an interventionist gastroenterologist at City of Hope Orange County Lennar Foundation Cancer Center, tells Yahoo Life. “The process is typically without pain and generally concludes in under half an hour,” he adds.

Nevertheless, the preparation for a colonoscopy tells a different tale. You might have to ingest copious fluids, devote a considerable amount of time in the lavatory and make temporary dietary adjustments. Otherwise, your physicians may not adequately observe your colon, and you could have to undergo preparation again. None desires that.

Thankfully, multiple strategies exist to render your preparation more efficacious and less distressing. Below are some recommendations from health experts to facilitate a smoother, simpler colonoscopy preparation.

Conventional colonoscopy preparation includes consuming a significant quantity of liquids (an oral laxative mixture) to cleanse your colon. Currently, other alternatives such as reduced-volume preps and pills exist that can achieve a comparable outcome. It’s also possible to spread your prep drink over a couple of days instead of consuming it all at once. Inquire with your medical team about the various options to identify the most suitable one for your needs.

If you’ve previously faced a negative experience with any bowel prep medication, inform your medical team. They might be able to suggest an alternative.

It is also important to mention if you suffer from constipation. “If your constipation is unmanaged, it’s beneficial to converse about this beforehand with your physician,” Dr. Rachel Schiesser, a gastroenterologist from Houston Methodist Hospital, shares with Yahoo Life. “Commencing the bowel prep with constipation can result in insufficient evacuation and symptoms like discomfort, bloating, and queasiness,” she states.

To ensure a fluid and triumphant prep, being well-informed about what to expect is vital. Read the instructions one or two weeks ahead of your appointment to familiarize yourself with the steps. If you have any uncertainties, don’t hesitate to pose questions to your healthcare team.

Free your calendar on the day of your prep (this will be the day preceding your colonoscopy) and organize your affairs so you can remain at home, in proximity to a restful restroom. A good book or a film on your device could also serve as companions during this period.

“I suggest reviewing your guidelines roughly a week before your procedure. Acquire a supply of clear liquids which you will need the day before your colonoscopy such as broth, coffee, tea, and Jell-O,” Dr Aditi Stanton, a specialist at Gastro Health, advises Yahoo Life.

Your healthcare team will provide dietary guidelines — which are imperative to follow to ensure there is no undigested food in your colon that could obstruct visibility. “Adherence to dietary advice is crucial to avert undigested nourishment in your colon that may hinder visibility,” Dr. Rabia de Latour,, director of endoscopy at Bellevue Hospital Center and an assistant professor of medicine at NYU School of Medicine, discusses with Yahoo Life.

You will have to modify your nutrition a few days before your colonoscopy. Generally, this entails opting for food low in dietary fiber for two to three days — foods like pasta, white rice, potatoes, turkey, eggs, and others — while steering clear of beans, prunes, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, as well as nuts and seeds. A diet of clear liquids only will be your regime on the day prior to the procedure; thus, make sure to stockpile clear broths, soups, and teas.

Maintain Proper Fluid Intake

In the 24 hours preceding your colonoscopy, your diet will almost exclusively comprise liquids. While solid nourishment is off-limits, you’re free to ingest calorie-containing beverages to your heart’s content.

Consuming ample fluids is crucial to stay adequately hydrated as your digestive system clears itself. Permissible liquids include water, transparent soft drinks, translucent juices, and clear broths. Consumables like gelatin desserts and frozen pops are allowed too. Steer clear of any refreshments containing hues such as red, blue, or purple as they could tinge the lining of your colon, posing potential problems for the examination scheduled for the following day.

“Concentrate on maintaining fluid levels,” advises Schiesser. “Securing proper hydration prior to initiating the bowel purification process will enhance your overall comfort, diminish the chances of becoming dehydrated, facilitate the insertion of an intravenous line, and contribute to a more effective cleansing,” she continues.

For those undertaking the conventional liquid-heavy preparation, a dash of inventiveness could aid the ingestion process:

• Refrigerate the solution to cool it down and employ a drinking straw, which might assist in easing its consumption. However, consume slowly to circumvent any potential retching or regurgitation.

• Enhance the preparation by adding a pinch of lemon-lime Gatorade or a transparent Crystal Light flavor for improved palatability. “When you mix the preparation with a beverage, opt for a taste that you find pleasant but not indispensable, as the sheer amount you’ll be imbibing might turn you off from choosing it again anytime soon,” remarks Sharkey.

• Follow each gulp with a preferred drink—such as dairy-free tea, soda, or clear juice—to cleanse the palate. The utilization of ginger sweets or chewing gum between draughts can also be beneficial.

Post-ingestion of the laxative concoction, prepare for extensive lavatory visits. Frequent toilet use can make using regular toilet paper an abrasive experience, so opt for moist towelettes as a gentler alternative. However, refrain from flushing them down; instead, discard them in a trash receptacle to prevent blockages in the plumbing system.

Further, opt for attire that is loosely fitted for maximum ease, and remain within proximity to a restroom as the necessity to evacuate can be abrupt.

“Equip yourself with an engaging novel or line up enticing series to watch on your digital device while you occupy the restroom ‘completing your assignment,’” suggests Sharkey. “Maintain a lighthearted disposition. This episode will soon be a thing of the past,” he concludes.

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