For many, undergoing a colonoscopy may sound like a daunting task. From the preparation to the day of the scope, there are many moments that patients may find themselves feeling uncertain, and it is important to be as prepared as possible for your colonoscopy.
If this is the first time you are preparing for a colonoscopy, there might be many questions on your mind right now, but you’ll be glad to know we have got a list of tips that will make your colon exam a breeze.
Before we go into the tips, do you know what a colonoscopy is and why you need one?
A colonoscopy investigates the large intestine together with the rectum and anus.
Our doctor will check for signs of abnormalities found in your large intestine during this investigation. It is done using a camera mounted at the end of a thin, flexible tube, known as a colonoscope. Samples of the large intestine can be taken if there are any growths or unusual findings.
Colorectal cancer occurs when small colon polyps and lumps begin to grow and mutate within the colon or rectum walls, manifesting into cancerous cells. If present, our doctor will remove growths observed within the colon or rectum walls to prevent them from manifesting into cancerous cells.
In Singapore, if you are 50 years old or above, you are advised to schedule regular screenings to check for signs of colon polyps. However, there are increasing trends in younger adults developing colon cancer. If you’re already experiencing any symptoms such as blood in your stool, diarrhoea, constipation or abdominal pain, you may want to speak to our doctor about a colonoscopy.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, here are some tips & tricks on how to get ready for your procedure-from eating the right foods beforehand to packing your bag with everything you’ll need.
Tip #1: Start by Eating & Drinking Right
A clean colon makes it easier to find and remove the polyps. Try eating a high-fibre diet for a week leading up to your colonoscopy. Fibre helps cleanse the colon and intestines, making it easier for our doctor to detect abnormalities. Some good sources of fibre include whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
Similarly, you may want to avoid eating red meat or dairy products in the days leading up to your colonoscopy. These foods can be difficult to digest and may cause problems during the procedure.
Water can also help move and clear your bowels to make the procedure smoother, so drink plenty of fluids in the days leading up to your colonoscopy. This will help keep you hydrated and make the process easier on you.
On the day before your procedure, you will be advised to fast for 6-8 hours to ensure your colon stays clear after your bowel prep, so make sure to stay away from food during that time.
Tip #2: Pack Light (But Don’t Forget A Snack)
A colonoscopy is a simple procedure, and you will usually be done within 2 hours from the time of admission, so you might not want to overpack for this investigation. When preparing your packing list, you might want to keep these items on hand:
- Change of Clothes
- Light Snack (for after the procedure)
Since you are required to fast before the procedure, you are likely to be hungry once you are finished. Having a light snack such as your favourite biscuit around could be just the thing you need.
Tip #3: Plan Your Procedure According to Your Schedule
You might want to consider planning your procedure on the weekend or Monday if you don’t want to miss too much work.
While a colonoscopy can be a pretty quick procedure, you have to remember that you will need a bowel prep the night before to clean your colon. For this, you might not want to arrange your scope on a busy day of the week as you might be too distracted by the urge to use the toilet. By scheduling it on a Saturday, or Monday, you can ensure minimal downtime even if you have the feeling to purge.
Additionally, consider requesting for your colonoscopy to be done in the morning. Having the procedure done in the morning will mean that you will mostly be asleep throughout your fast, helping you tide through any hunger pangs.
Tip #4: Bowel Prep is The Key to a Successful Colonoscopy
One of the key things to ensure your investigation is as seamless as possible is to have a clean colon. This allows our doctor to properly check for signs of polyps or tumours within the colon and rectum.
Before you begin with the bowel prep, check for the doctor’s instructions and decide if you might need to bring forward the time you start by an hour or two to ensure that you are not up the whole night running to and from the bathroom. As each person’s reaction to the laxatives may differ, you may not feel it right away, but it should take effect within an hour.
As an added tip, remember to complete all the steps and finish drinking the oral laxatives even if you have started to feel the effects and have already started purging.
Tip #5: Plan Your Ride Home
A colonoscopy will involve being placed under general anaesthesia, and it is common to feel drowsy right after the procedure until the effects wear off. Since driving will not be not an option, you may want to get a friend or family member to be with you after you have been discharged to send you home. Alternatively, book your trip back home with any ride-hailing app to ensure that you reach home safely.
Tip #6: Ease Back Into Your Meals Slowly
One of the most common mistakes people make after their colonoscopy is stuffing themselves with food. While it’s understandable that you’d be quite hungry right after your procedure, go easy on what you eat.
Following a colonoscopy, your gut may require some time to recover from the scope, especially if you’ve had some polyps removed, so it’d be prudent to stay away from a heavy, greasy or even spicy meal.
Try sticking to soupy options and slowly resume your original diet after 2 to 3 days.
And that is it for our tips & tricks to getting ready for a colonoscopy. While it may sound like a hassle, colorectal cancer can be one of the most preventable cancers in the world and always remember that “Prevention is better than cure”.
If you’re looking for a trusted doctor who will be able to answer your questions about a colonoscopy, consider scheduling an assessment with our team to better understand your health. Contact us directly via WHATSAPP or call our CLINIC for assistance.