Tips for Your Next Colonoscopy

So you find yourself prepping for your next colonoscopy...welcome to the fun!

Once the prep is out of the way, the worst part is over. So, I've put together some things that have helped me in the past as well as with my most recent scope. I just had my last colonoscopy a few weeks after my 30th birthday and let me tell you what a celebration that was!

In preparation for this scope, my GI's office sent me a document I'd never received before. I opened the envelope to find a helpful list of things I could and could not eat/drink the days before my scope and during my prep. Here are some things I learned this time around:

Be sure to...

  • Prepare a grocery list about 1-2 weeks before you're scheduled to actually start drinking your scope prep. Include things you can eat and drink, any creams and wipes you may use during and after your prep.
  • If you have a harder time emptying your bowel clearly, start your liquid diet 7 days prior to prep. I've done this for my last few procedures outpatient and I've had the best success.
  • Prepare an area to keep your prep and an area to do your mixture so you can clean it up right away. The last thing you want to do while running to and from the bathroom for a day is clean up after a mess.
  • Chill your prep overnight. This is the easiest way for me to get things down, no matter what the type of prep. Chilled = better. If you have to take a 2nd dose the morning of your prep, chill the next half of the mixture overnight. I also chill about 6 glasses of water so they are nice and cold when I'm ready to drink liquids to help get the prep working
  • Clean your surroundings so you don't have to bolt to the bathroom from another room and trip over things on the way. For me, I typically stay on the same floor as my bathroom and "set up camp" to feel most comfortable. I bring fresh pillows to press against my stomach if I start to cramp and in the past, I've set up a little bed next to the bathroom to try and get a few minutes of sleep in between trips.
  • Make yourself a little basket to keep next to the toilet full of things that will be of great use to you during your prep. Here is a basket I made for myself before my last scope. I filled it with witch hazel, Wet Wipes, Calmoseptine, rectal creams & other creams. You might notice I have matches in my bag. Why, you ask? Because the sulfur smells a whole lot better to me than anything else. Strike a match & it will help with the smell.. and also nausea.

Try to avoid...

  • Waiting until the day before to get your prep from the pharmacy; you'll want to read the instructions on what your prep entails ahead of time.
  • Ruining your prep by trying to *sneak* something into your diet during your prep. I can't say I've ever tried it, but I've had plenty of awful experiences with thinking I was all cleared out and it turns out I wasn't. Even one small bite of food can mess up your digestive system. Waking up from anesthesia to hear "sorry, you need to prep more and come back tomorrow" is one of the worst things to hear. Just don't chance it.
  • Drinking anything died blue, purple or red. You risk potentially confusing your GI making it harder for you to scope, as these colors may appear to be blood when it is actually the dye in the product you're drinking.
  • Forgetting to apply some barrier cream on your bum. You may not think you need it in the beginning, but your bottom will thank you once you start feeling like Melissa McCarthy in Bridesmaids.

Some grocery list items that could help:

  • Hard candies to suck on in between glasses of prep - it helps take away the sensation or taste of many preps.
  • A batch of broth for the day before when you start to get hungry. The more fluids you drink, the clearer you'll be. Many of the preps rely fully on the glasses of water in between the glasses of prep to get things moving along.
  • Flavor packets. I put a few of them into my prep to help it go down easier. Again, avoid the reds, blues & purples. I usually pick up a few lemon-flavored Koolaid single packets. Crystal Light and any other single packets work just as well. This time I tried some Gatorade Mio (the squeezable flavoring bottle) to mix with water or any drink. It wasn't terrible.
  • Apple juice, flavored water or any type of sports drink to take with or during your prep. I've picked things I won't mind not having for a while. I use Lemon Gatorade for prep and there are very few times in my life I've enjoyed a nice tall bottle of it since then.
  • Colas and coffee. Some people don't know a few of the items you're able to eat/drink during your prep. Believe it or not, some sodas like colas and coffee are on that list! Gummy worms? Yep! I separate the ones without the dye myself.

What are some things that you've been surprised when told you could or couldn't eat/drink them?

What else would you add as far as comfort items, prep items or things you use to occupy the time during your prep?

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our privacy policy.

More on this topic

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Join the conversation

or create an account to comment.

Community Poll

Will you take our In America survey to help others understand the true impact of Crohn's and UC?