What is a Colonoscopy?
A colonoscopy can save your life. This routine procedure enables your doctor to view the lining of your colon, helping to detect and prevent colorectal cancer, the third leading cause of death in the United States. Colorectal cancer affects one in 20 people, but with this outpatient procedure and a little preparation, you’ll be on your way to preventing or even curing this disease.
Why Get a Colonoscopy?
- Getting a colonoscopy can help prevent colorectal cancer.
- A colonoscopy is one of the only screenings where medical professionals have the chance to remove potentialy harmful cancer cells.
- Early detection is key and having a colonoscopy is one of the best procedures to have if you’re at risk for developing colorectal cancer or other problems.
- A colonoscopy can help prevent or find a cure for other gastrointestinal issues.
Preparing for your Colonoscopy
Preparation for your colonoscopy begins prior to the procedure. Your physician will prescribe you a colonoscopy prep beginning the day before. This is an integral part of the preparation, so please be sure not to skip this, as it will impact the procedure’s outcome.
Throughout the procedure, you’ll be sedated. During the colonoscopy, your physician will insert a flexible tube, called a colonoscope into your anus. A camera at the end of the colonoscope will be used to examine your colon for inflammation, polyps or other potential issues.
After your procedure, your physician will speak with you about your results. Please be sure that you have someone who will be able to drive you home. Once home, plan on resting the remainder of the day and start gradually getting back to your normal diet.
Why is Colonoscopy Preparation Important?
It’s important to listen to your doctor regarding your colonoscopy prep. This prescription medication is designed to cleanse your digestive tract, so that when it is time for your procedure, your colon is clear and your healthcare provider is able to view the colon’s lining clearly.
If you are improperly prepped, your physician may have difficulty seeing if there are signs of issues, including colon cancer. This is why it is imperative that you prepare, so that your doctor will be able to perform the procedure. Be sure to complete your prep as directed.
What Can I Expect During My Colonoscopy?
At the beginning of your colonoscopy, an IV will be started for the purpose of sedation. You’ll be lying on your side for the duration of the procedure and generally will feel little to no pain. Your physician will examine you with a long, flexible tube, which is about as thick as your finger. This tube, or colonoscope, will show the doctor signs of inflammation, precancerous lesions and signs of other digestive issues.
The colonoscopy may also allow your doctor to take biopsies and samples for analysis, and also remove polyps before they become cancerous.
How Will I Feel After My Colonoscopy?
After your colonoscopy procedure, you may feel the effects of the prep and sedation for a few hours. This is why it is important to have a relative or friend drive you home. You may feel a little bloating as well. This is due to the air which was introduced as the colonoscope was passed into your colon. This, too, will pass in a few hours. Be sure to get a good night’s rest after your procedure before attempting to operate a motor vehicle.
As you start to feel more like yourself, you will need to eat. Start with a small meal and work your way back to your normal eating habits. Do be sure to consult your physician with any questions or issues you may have.