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Frequently Asked Questions


COLONOSCOPY - Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can I drink anything other than water?
A: Yes! It is important that you drink a variety of allowed clear liquids to avoid the possibility of becoming nauseated and dehydrated. Clear liquids include: apple and white grape juice or other non-citrus juices without pulp, Gatorade, ginger ale, diet or regular 7-Up, Sprite or colas, Kool Aid, water, clear broth, Popsicles, honey and hard candies without filling. Also included in a clear liquid diet is black coffee or tea without cream or powdered creamer and jell-O without added fruit.

Q: Can I take other medications before the procedure?
A: Yes, except the ones listed on the enclosed medication information form. Please carefully review the medication information form. Generally, you should take prescribed medication, as directed, both on the preparation day and on the day of the procedure. However, you must not take anticoagulants (blood thinners) for at least 7-10 days prior to the procedure. These include Coumadin, aspirin, Plavix, vitamin E, and ibuprofen.

Q: Do I need antibiotics before the procedure?
A: If you have had a total joint replacement longer than 6 months ago, or if you have a mitral valve prolapse, then you do not need antibiotics. If you have had a total joint replacement less than 6 months ago, or if you have had a mitral valve replacement, or if you require daily antibiotics for any other medical condition, then you do need antibiotics. Please contact the doctor who manages these conditions for the prescription.

Q: How long will the colonoscopy take?
A: The entire procedure usually takes less than an hour. You should plan to be at the facility for approximately 2 hours. The amount of time may vary from patient to patient, depending on how much sedation is needed and how you feel afterwards.

Q: I accidentally took ibuprofen or aspirin for pain, will my procedure need to be rescheduled?
A:
If one dose was taken, you may still have your procedure. If more than one dose was taken, you will need to call the office that your physician is affiliated with.

Q: I am diabetic. What should I do about my insulin?
A: Call the physician that manages your diabetes and tell them of your prep. That physician should determine how to change your insulin dose.

Q:  Why can’t I drink or consume anything red or purple during my clear liquid diet?
A:  When you consume something red or purple, it can stain the colon or appear to be small amounts of blood.  To help ensure an accurate exam, these liquids should be avoided.

Q:  Why do I have to stop drinking three hours before I come in?
A:  We ask that you stop all clear liquids three hours prior to your procedure to allow your stomach to empty.  If there are liquids in your stomach when given sedation, those liquids could be aspirated into your lungs causing serious complications.
 
Q:  Why can’t I drive myself home after my procedure?
A:  Due to the sedation given during the procedure, you are considered legally impaired.  The sedation medication impairs your judgment and reflexes.  You will not be permitted to drive for 12 hours following your procedure.

Q:  Can I take a bus or a taxi home by myself after my procedure?
A:  No.  Due to the sedation given during the procedure, you are considered legally impaired.  The sedation medication impairs your judgment and reflexes.  A trusted person must be with you to drive you home or accompany you on public transit. 

Q:  I already have diarrhea before starting my prep, do I still have to take all of the laxatives?
A:  Yes.  You must follow the preparation instructions given to you.  Your colon is approximately 6 feet long and must be completely emptied to help ensure an accurate and thorough exam.

Q:  I am very thin.  Do I still have to take all of the laxatives?
A:  Yes.  You must follow the preparation instructions given to you. Your colon is approximately 6 feet long and must be completely emptied to help ensure an accurate and thorough exam.

Q:  I seem to be all cleaned out but I haven’t finished my laxatives, do I have to finish them?
A:  Yes.  You must follow the preparation instructions given to you.  Your colon is approximately 6 feet long and must be completely emptied to help ensure an accurate and thorough exam.

Q:  I feel nauseous.  What should I do?
A:  You can take a short break from drinking the laxatives.  Try drinking ginger ale or another clear liquid to help settle your stomach.  Continue your prep when the feeling has subsided.

Q:  Can I use cream during my prep to avoid anal irritation?
A:  Yes.  You may apply Desitin, A & D ointment, Vaseline or any other cream during the prep.

Q:  How long will it take to complete my bowel prep?
A:  The entire prep can take approximately four to eight hours.  You should plan to be near a restroom during this period.

Q:  I started my laxatives and I haven’t had a bowel movement yet.  What should I do?
A:  Some patients have a bowel movement immediately after starting the laxatives and for others it may take 2 hours or longer.  Continue drinking clear liquids and following your bowel prep instructions.

Q:  Can I chew gum during the prep?
A:  Yes

Q:  Can I have sugar in my coffee/tea during my clear liquid diet?
A:  Yes.  You may use sugar or sugar substitutes in your drinks during your clear liquid diet.

Q:  Can I have cream in my coffee/tea?
A:  No.  Avoid all dairy products including milk, cream and powdered creamer.

Q:  Can I drink alcoholic beverages during the prep?
A:  Alcoholic beverages can cause dehydration, so we strongly suggest you do not drink alcoholic beverages during your bowel prep.

Q:  Can I smoke during the prep?
A:  Yes.

Q:  Can I brush my teeth the morning of my procedure?
A:  Yes.

Q:  Can I take my antianxiety medications the morning of my procedure?
A:  Yes.  You may take your antianxiety medications with a small sip of water.

Q:  Can I have soup during my clear liquid diet?
A:  You can only have broth.  You may not have noodles, meat or vegetables.

Q:  Can I have a colonoscopy if I am having my menstrual period?
A:  Yes.

Q:  Will the procedure hurt?
A:  You will be given sedation during the procedure to help you stay comfortable. 

Q:  Why can’t I eat popcorn a week before my procedure?
A:  The hulls from popcorn can stay in the colon for days.  During your procedure the hulls can appear to be growths in the colon.  Popcorn hulls can also clog the scope.

Q:  When can I eat after my procedure?
A:  Generally, you can eat immediately after your procedure avoiding greasy or spicy foods.  Occasionally, there is mild nausea from the sedative medications.  You may not have a full appetite until the following day.

Q:  After the procedure, when will I have a normal bowel movement?
A:  Because your intestines were completely cleaned out for your procedure, it may take a couple of days of eating solid foods before you have a bowel movement.

Q:  I am having a lot of pain and discomfort after my procedure.  What should I do?
A:  You may call our office to speak with one of the physicians.  If you are having severe pain, you should go to the emergency room.

Q:  Can I go back to work after my procedure?
A:  Due to the sedation given during the procedure, you should plan to rest at home for the remainder of the day.  You may resume your usual activities the day after your procedure.

Back to Colonoscopy

Who Should have a Colonoscopy?

What is a Colonoscopy?

Preparation for Colonoscopy