What to Know About Getting a Colonoscopy

A colonoscopy can be a life-saving procedure that detects cancer. It is not always something that patients look forward to, but it is an easy and effective way to prevent colon cancer before it becomes deadly. By knowing what to expect, it can alleviate any concerns there may be about going through the process.

Who Should Have a Colonoscopy?

Men and women should have the procedure at age 50. It should be repeated once every five to ten years until the age of 75. It may be necessary to have the procedure done more frequently, depending on what the doctor finds.

Those who have an immediate relative who has been diagnosed with colon cancer or polyps before the age of 60 should start the screening at age 40. Anyone who has a disorder that may predispose them to the risk of cancer, such as ulcerative colitis, may require a colonoscopy at an earlier age, which will be determined by a physician.

What Should Be Expected Prior to the Procedure?

Before everything begins, only clear foods and liquids can be consumed. This will include water, broth, coffee with no cream, gelatin, tea, and clear juices. Do not consume anything that is red, blue, or purple. The doctor may also require the patient stop certain medications for a period of time before the procedure. It may be necessary to take an antibiotic in certain circumstances.

A bowel prep will have to be done to get a good view of the colon. This will typically start on the day before, and it will include one of the following:

– A prepared laxative solution that can be mixed with an electrolyte solution or sports drink

– A laxative pill that is to be taken with fluids

– An enema that washes out the colon

Always be sure to complete the prep as instructed by the doctor. If this is not done per specifications, the doctor will not be able to see the colon clearly.

What Will Happen During the Colonoscopy?

During the procedure, the patient will be sedated with anesthesia. If there are things that the doctor is concerned about, he or she will remove anything they may see. A biopsy may also be taken for examination. The procedure may take anywhere from 20 to 60 minutes.

Afterward, the patient will rest for up to 60 minutes while the sedation wears off. The patient should have someone to drive him or her home because the sedation medication will make the patient drowsy. There may be some minimal discomfort and cramping.

Having a colonoscopy is an important part of maintaining good overall health. Follow the instructions per the doctor in order to lower the risk of cancer or other ailments.

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