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How to Prepare for Your First Colonoscopy

How to Prepare for Your First Colonoscopy

Colonoscopies have the potential to decrease the occurrence of colorectal cancer by 31% and colorectal cancer deaths by 50% — but only if done correctly.

That’s where Dr. Darrien Gaston and our Metropolitan Gastroenterology Consultants come in. Whether this is your first colonoscopy or you’re a seasoned pro, here are some top tips from Dr. Gaston that can make your procedure go smoothly.

1. Start with a change of diet

To get a good look at the inside of your colon, Dr. Gaston needs it to be empty and clean. We give you a special laxative to help in that department, but you can assist the process by changing your days a few days before you drink the laxative.

Transition into soups, smoothies, and soft and light-colored foods, and avoid hard-to-digest foods like nuts, red meat, raw veggies, and fibrous, bright-colored fruits.

Also, cut back on your portions leading into your colonoscopy appointment.

2. Drink your laxative — all of it

In most cases, Dr. Gaston prescribes a liquid laxative to help clean out your colon. Unfortunately, you must consume a fairly large volume, which can cause nausea and vomiting in some. However, you must drink the entire quantity, so follow our patients’ advice and drink the laxative cold and through a straw to minimize the struggle.

You can also take breaks and portion your consumption out over an hour. Think of it as 8 oz. every 15 minutes rather than 32 ounces all at once. 

3. Make the most of your liquid diet

Typically, Dr. Gaston asks you to switch to a clear liquid diet the day before your colonoscopy appointment, so make the most of it. Choose liquids you love like:

You can even have light-colored gummy candies as long as they’re not red, purple, or orange because the dyes can look like blood in your colonoscopy test.

4. Stock your bathroom

Once the laxative kicks in, expect to spend some quality time in the bathroom. Don’t get caught unprepared — stock up on these essential items:

Although we don’t typically recommend reading in the bathroom, colonoscopy prep is a special circumstance. Have a stack of magazines, a good book, or a charged phone or tablet nearby to keep you occupied while you’re going.

5. Embrace elastic pants

When the urge to go hits, the last thing you want to do is fumble with buttons, hooks, and zippers — trust us. Get out your favorite stretchy pants for quick on-and-off action.

6. Watch for the “all clear”

You know your prep drink has done its job when your stools run clear. For some people, this happens after the first few trips to the bathroom, but for others, it takes longer. Either way, drink every last drop of your prep drink. If Dr. Gaston prescribes oral pill laxatives, the same goes for these, too — take them all to ensure the best results.

7. Transition back to solids slowly

After your colonoscopy, you’ll probably be pretty hungry, but don’t head straight to the nearest fast-food drive-through. Your gut needs a little time before it can handle heavy foods again, so transition gently with mild foods that are easy to digest. Save the lasagna and burritos for next week. 

To schedule your first colonoscopy, call Metropolitan Gastroenterology Consultants in Chicago, Illinois, at 773-245-0347. 

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