5 Tips for Surviving Colonoscopy Prep

Because preparing for a colonoscopy isn't much fun

Published: February 08, 2015 12:00 AM

Ask anyone who's ever had a colonoscopy and they'll probably tell you that prepping for the procedure wasn't much fun. You’re limited to a clear-liquid diet for about 24 hours before the procedure, and you might have to drink up to a gallon of a laxative solution, such as polyethylene glycol—and we've yet to talk to anyone who said it tasted great. You'll also spend much of the day on the toilet.

Healthy, clean intestine.

The prepping process ensures that your intestines are perfectly clean (like the one pictured here) so the gastroenterologist has an unobstructed view. That way your doctor can examine every inch carefully. If small polyps are found, they should be removed during the procedure and sent to a lab for analysis. But beware: if a biopsy is performed your procedure may no longer be considered a screening test and your insurance may not fully cover it.

It's extremely important to prep for a colonoscopy correctly, because if your doctor isn't able to see everything clearly you may need to go through the entire prep and procedure again.

Here are our top five tips for surviving your colonoscopy prep.

  1. Ask your doctor whether it’s OK to add lemon, lime, ginger, or a flavor enhancer like Crystal Light to the laxative solution.
  2. To improve the taste, chill it before drinking.
  3. Use a straw to drink the chilled solution.
  4. Eat lighter than usual and avoid higher fiber foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains for a few days before your prep.
  5. Stay near a bathroom and use flushable wipes and diaper ointment to soothe irritation.

Find out more about how to have a safe colonoscopy.

—Lauren Cooper

Editor's Note:

This article also appeared in the February 2015 issue of Consumer Reports on Health.

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