You’ve just had a colonoscopy, an essential procedure to screen for potential abnormalities within your colon or rectum. While you might feel relief now that it’s over, you might also grapple with numerous questions about what comes next.
One of the most frequent queries we hear from people is, “Can I eat normally after a colonoscopy?” It’s a valid question, given that the procedure is a deep dive into your digestive system.
So, in this comprehensive guide, we’ll take you through what to expect after a colonoscopy, from common symptoms to the do’s and don’ts of eating post-procedure, to ensure your recovery process is smooth and comfortable.
How a Colonoscopy Might Affect Your System
Following a colonoscopy, it’s common for your digestive system to respond with certain mild and transient symptoms as it recovers from the procedure. A colonoscopy is essentially an exploratory journey through your colon, involving the insertion of a long, flexible tube into your rectum to examine the lining of your large intestine. This can, understandably, lead to temporary disruptions in the usual functioning of your digestive system.
Common Symptoms You May Experience After a Colonoscopy
One of the most common sensations post-colonoscopy is a feeling of fullness or bloating. This is due to the air that’s introduced into your colon during the procedure to enhance the visibility of the inner intestinal lining. This air can cause some distension of the colon and give rise to the sensation of bloating. You may also pass more gas than usual for a few hours following the procedure. This ‘wind’ is simply the introduced air finding its way out of your system and should cause no concern.
Some people may also experience mild cramps or abdominal discomfort following a colonoscopy. This is usually a reaction to the air in the colon, as well. These abdominal cramps are usually temporary and subside as the air is passed out of the system.
In certain cases, there might be a slight alteration in your bowel movements immediately after the procedure. You may observe changes in the consistency or frequency of your stool. This is quite common and should normalise in a day or two as your colon recovers. For more information on pre and post colonoscopy care, visit our guide here.
What To Eat After A Colonoscopy
To prevent aggravating the colon, resuming a normal diet after a colonoscopy can usually begin immediately, but you should make a gentle start. Here are some foods that are typically well-tolerated:
- Broth and clear soups: These are light on the digestive system while providing necessary hydration.
- Cooked vegetables: Well-cooked vegetables are easier to digest than raw ones.
- Lean proteins: Skinless poultry, fish, and eggs provide valuable protein.
- White bread or rice: These starchy foods are easily digestible.
What Foods To Avoid After A Colonoscopy
On the other hand, while knowing what to eat is essential, it’s equally important to know what foods to avoid after a colonoscopy. As your body recuperates, it’s best to steer clear of food items that could further irritate your system. These include:
- Spicy foods
- Alcoholic beverages
- High-fibre foods like whole grains, nuts, and raw vegetables
- Dairy products, if you’re lactose intolerant
- Foods that produce gas, such as beans, cabbage, or carbonated drinks
Warning Signs & When To Call Your Doctor
While mild discomfort and changes in bowel habits are to be expected after a colonoscopy, certain symptoms warrant immediate medical attention. These include severe abdominal pain, fever, bloody or very dark stools, and difficulty swallowing.
If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s crucial to seek medical assistance without delay.
Can I Eat Normally After A Colonoscopy?
Finally, to address the burning question, “Can I eat normally after a colonoscopy?” Yes, you can – but it’s advised to do so gradually. Reintroduce different foods slowly, keeping tabs on how your body responds.
Remember, everyone is different, and your recovery pace may differ from someone else’s. Listen to your body, and don’t rush the process. Within a few days, you should be back to your regular diet, feeling healthier and more at ease knowing you’ve taken a crucial step towards maintaining your digestive health.
At G&L Surgical, we provide professional advice on colonoscopy procedures and colorectal cancer. If you have any questions on these examinations and conditions, contact our team for assistance.