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How To Prepare for a Colonoscopy

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Updated: August 29, 2007

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Proper Colonscopy Prep

Did you know that you don't just go and get a colonoscopy? You need to prepare your colon first -- flush it out. This procedure (commonly referred to as colonoscopy prep) varies from patient to patient. So, make sure you follow your doctor's colonoscopy prep instructions to the letter. These are general guidelines so people who aren't yet scheduled for a colonoscopy will have an idea of what's involved in colonoscopy prep.
Difficulty: Average
Time Required: One Week

Here's How:

  1. Colonoscopy prep five to seven days before the procedure:

    You may be asked to stop taking blood-thinning medication and iron supplements. Blood-thinning medication may include prescribed medicine, such as Coumadin, and non-prescription medicine such as aspirin and ibuprofen. If you take a multivitamin, check the label to see if it contains iron. It's important that you refrain from taking your medication if instructed to do so by your doctor.

  2. Colonoscopy prep two days before the procedure:

    You'll be asked to take laxative tablets in the evening. These should be provided by your doctor. Yes, this is where the fun begins.

  3. Colonoscopy prep 24 hours before the procedure:

    Make sure you only ingest clear liquids and try to avoid milk and anything red, like cherry Jello or Kool Aid. (Do adults drink Kool Aid?) In the early evening, mix about 1.5 ounces of phosphosoda laxative (available over-the-counter) with water or gingerale and drink it. Later in the evening, mix another phosphosoda cocktail and enjoy. Park yourself near a toilet and bring something to read.

  4. Colonoscopy prep the day of the procedure:

    You usually have to stop drinking clear liquids at least two hours before the colonoscopy.

Tips:

  1. Brand names for some over-the-counter products that contain blood-thinners include Advil, Alka-Seltzer, Aleve, Bayer, Excedrin, Motril, Nuprin, and Pepto-Bismol.

  2. Medications don't usually count as "solid food." However, some you're supposed to take during colonoscopy prep and others you're not. Your doctor can help clarify that for you.

What You Need:

  • About 3 ounces of phosphosoda laxative from the pharmacy.
  • Clear liquids like broth, popsicles, and fruit juice with no pulp.
  • Patience. Lots of patience.
Related Video
See What to Expect at a Colonoscopy
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  5. Colonoscopy
  6. Colonoscopy Prep - Proper Colonoscopy Prep

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