"To Your Health" articles provide information about health and wellness topics.
Feel more "at ease" about your colonoscopy with these tips, March 2019
March is colorectal (colon) cancer awareness month. As the third-most diagnosed form of cancer in the US, and second leading cause of cancer deaths, screening patients at regular intervals remains crucial to reducing instances of colon cancer.
When it comes to detecting and preventing colon cancer, no screening option is more effective than a colonoscopy. Screenings should begin for patients at age 45, and when detected early, colon cancer is more likely to be cured, and treatment less extensive.
Here are some tips to help your patients feel more "at ease" about their colonoscopy procedure:
1. GET SCHEDULED.
• When scheduling, keep in mind that you will need to take two days off from work, one for the
prep day and one for the test.
• On prep day, you will need to be close to a bathroom.
• On test day, your sedation choice may make it unsafe for you to drive or perform work duties.
Be sure to have a friend or family member available for transportation to and from your
• Bonus Tip: Schedule the colonoscopy for Monday morning, then you may only miss one day of work and can do the prep on Sunday.
2. GET PREPPED.
A clean colon makes it easier to find and remove polyps. In most cases, cleansing the digestive tract means eating white foods for several days prior and a clear liquid diet on the day before. Stock your kitchen with items like:
• white rice, pasta, and bread
• mashed potatoes (no skins)
• canned fruits and veggies
• clear fruit juices (apple is best)
• Jell-o (but avoid red, blue, or purple coloring)
• clear soft drinks (like Sierra Mist or 7-up, many clinics even allow root beer!)
• coffee and tea (no milk or creamer)
• broth • Bonus Tip: Limit your meat consumption for a few days before to ensure the prep
your doctor prescribes is effective and works quickly.
Your physician will prescribe a liquid laxative. Unfortunately many people find the solution disagreeable. To help the drink go down:
• Keep the fluid cold
• Drink through a straw placed at the back of the mouth
• Suck on tart hard candies or lemon to mute the taste • Bonus Tip: If the instructions are to mix with another drink (like Gatorade)
don't mix the drink with your favorite flavor - it will no longer be your favorite!
Being close to a bathroom on prep day is essential. Many people find using flushable moistened wipes instead of toilet paper makes the process more comfortable.
Bonus Tip: Apply hemorrhoid cream (or even diaper rash ointment) before starting the prep to protect your skin and ease some discomfort. Then reapply as often as needed.
3. GET ZEN.
Being relaxed on test day is important. Increased anxiety or fear can make the scoping process less comfortable. Good communication is key. Don't be afraid to ask questions about sedation, the test process, or managing discomfort.
After your colonoscopy, be sure to ask questions about the results. Your physician will let you know if there were any polyps or signs of cancer. And finally, find out when you should have your next colonoscopy or if there are any further steps you need to take.
Bonus Tip: Bring a friend or loved one with you to the test, they will help you stay relaxed and then join you for a bite to eat after the colonoscopy. You will be hungry!