Colonoscopy: What to know before you go

From Jonathan Vinson, M.D., family physician, Providence Medical Group-The Plaza

We know a colonoscopy isn’t something you look forward to, but neither is colon cancer. Getting screened is a small price to pay for peace of mind. If you’re 50 or older, or you have a family history of colorectal cancer, we recommend that you ask your doctor about a colonoscopy. If you’re already scheduled, here are some tips to help you prepare:

Take along a friend or family member.
You’ll need someone to drive you to and from your appointment. Not only is it required, but you’ll be woozy afterward and someone should be present for the doctor’s debrief. Most people feel fine following the procedure, but later on realize how little they actually remember.

Follow up with the specialist. Don’t just assume everything is all right if you haven’t heard from the doctor who performed your colonoscopy. Close the loop by making sure you get a call back or a letter in the mail that details what, if anything, was found, and what your next steps should be.

Expect to be gassy. Even though the doctor will try to remove as much air from your colon as possible, you’ll likely be flatulent for the remainder of the day. This is your free pass to let it all out.

Expect to feel drained. You spent the day before your colonoscopy cleaning out your system, and maybe the day before that on a liquids-only diet – both of which may make you a bit dehydrated. You’ll also be feeling the aftereffects of anesthesia. When you get home, take it easy, rest, drink plenty of water and eat when you feel like it.