Before A Colonoscopy:
Your colon must be cleared of stools before a colonoscopy is done, in order to ensure that the colorectal surgeon will be able to get a clear view of the entire length of your colon. As such, patients will be given very potent laxatives to clear their colon.
This is often described as perhaps the most uncomfortable and inconvenient part of the whole process – not even the colonoscopy itself! Yet, patients must persist in following the pre-colonoscopy instructions properly, because if the bowels are not cleared, residual stool in the colon may obstruct the doctor’s view and the colonoscopy may have to be repeated another day.
In most cases, if the procedure is to be held in the morning, you will be asked to take the laxatives and empty your bowels the night before. If the procedure is to be held in the afternoon, you will be asked to take the laxatives and empty your bowels in the morning of the procedure.
You are encouraged to drink as much fluid as possible when in the midst of purging your bowels. However, do not take high fibre food such as fruit and vegetables two days before the scheduled colonoscopy. Some other food restrictions may include: no solid food, stringy food, food with seeds, etc.
You must inform your colorectal surgeon about any medication you are currently taking, including over-the-counter drugs or vitamin supplements. This is so as if they have the potential to affect the colonoscopy, your doctor may ask you to temporarily stop taking them or make special adjustments.
These may include blood-thinning medication, supplements containing iron and certain diabetes medication, etc. You should also inform your doctor if you have any lung conditions, heart conditions, allergies to any medication, or if you are pregnant.
After A Colonoscopy:
- Most people do not have any side effects after the procedure
- Some may feel bloated and gassy or experience slight cramping due to residual air left in the colon, but this will pass soon
- You may stay in a recovery room for around 30 minutes for observation, and be discharged thereafter. However, do not travel home by yourself, as the sedatives used will impact your alertness and reflexes
- In most cases, you can resume your regular diet within the same day and resume normal activities by the next day
- If a biopsy was taken or a polyp was removed, your colorectal surgeon will let you know when to come back for a follow-up check and when to resume taking your blood-thinning medication (if you were taking them)
- If a biopsy was taken or a polyp was removed, you may notice light rectal bleeding one or two days after the procedure. However, if you experience a large amount of rectal bleeding, high fever or severe abdominal pain, contact the doctor who performed your colonoscopy immediately
- Do remember that it is normal to have less bowel movement over the next few days as a lot of stools have already been purged