BY DEAN PAPPAS M.D.
Colorectal cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in men and women. Early detection can save lives, which is why regular colorectal exams are crucial as you reach middle age. A regular colonoscopy could mean the difference between early detection of precancerous growths and costly medical treatments during later stages of cancer.
The colorectal specialists at our Garden City, NY medical center would like to go over some basics regarding the preparation for a colonoscopy. This should give patients realistic expectations of what to expect.
Why Preparation Is Important
Preparing for a colonoscopy helps improve the quality of the doctor’s exam. Cleaning out the colon entirely of any residue means a better ability to examine the tissues and lining of the colon and rectum unobscured.
Preparation is a bit of a process, but patients can do quite a bit to make the preparation period much easier.
Foods You Can Eat 4 Days Before Your Colonoscopy
In order to ready your digestive tract for a major cleansing and clearing, you’ll want to modify your diet three to four days before your colonoscopy. Doctors suggest patients eat light for the days leading into the exam, and to predominantly eat low-fiber foods that are easy to digest and pass. This includes:
- White bread
- Simple cooked vegetables without skin
- Fruit without skin or seeds
- Lean meats
Foods to Avoid 4 Days Before Your Colonoscopy
As you’re eating foods that are simple to digest, you’ll also want to avoid certain foods that take a while for your body to process. Some examples of these kinds of foods include:
- Whole grains
- Tough meats
- Fatty foods
- Raw vegetables
Patients will especially want to avoid corn, broccoli, beans, peas, and cabbage.
The Day Before: Fasting as Colonoscopy Preparation
The day before your colonoscopy, you’ll be asked to switch to an all-liquid diet. Do not consume any solid foods whatsoever. Instead, you’ll want to fluids without pulp. This includes:
- Sports drinks
- Apple juice
- Grape juice
- Clear soda
- Coffee and tea (without milk or cream)
Popsicles and gelatin can also be consumed, but avoid anything that is colored red, blue, or purple as these food dyes can affect the results of a colonoscopy.
The Night Before: Clearing Your Digestive Tract
The evening before the colonoscopy, you will be asked to take strong laxatives to help purge any solid matter that is in your digestive tract. Patients will usually drink about a half gallon of liquid laxative at night. Six hours before the colonoscopy, the patient will ingest another half gallon of the liquid laxative.
If the flavor of the liquid laxative is off-putting, you can use a drinking straw to bypass the tongue. You may also want to mix the laxative with a sports drink, or use powdered drink mix to make the flavor a bit more palatable.
Two Hours Before: Avoid Eating or Drinking Anything
Two hours before your colonoscopy, be sure to avoid eating or drinking anything at all. You’ll want your digestive tract to be free from anything.
Some patients may be experiencing the effects of the laxative even just before the exam. If that’s the case, consider wearing an adult diaper just for the time being. While it may be uncomfortable, it’s essential to monitor your health and wellness.
Contact Colon & Rectal Surgical Specialists
For more information about colorectal health and any concerns you may have about yourself or a loved one, contact an experience colorectal specialist today. We look forward to discussing these matters with you in greater detail.