Story by: Kim Huston on March 10, 2021
Maybe you’ve heard a story that you’ll have to drink some kind of awful-tasting liquid, and then you’ll be in the bathroom all day and night. Maybe you’re afraid colonoscopy prep will be so bad you’ll feel sick.
Whatever rumors you’ve heard, the truth is that colonoscopy prep options have gotten much easier in recent years, thanks to lower-dose regimens and better-tasting prep liquids. Colonoscopy prep is very important — a squeaky clean colon gives the doctor a clear view to be able to do their job best. It also helps the doctor find any polyps and remove them before they could become cancer. If the prep is not done properly, you may have to reschedule your colonoscopy.
Don’t let fear keep you from getting a screening that could save your life.
Drinking the prep drink every 10 minutes or so may not be necessary anymore. Split-dose bowel prep allows you to take half of the prep drink the night before and the other half the morning of the procedure.
Depending on the prep type, your provider may recommend splitting the dose in half or thirds. If your exam is in the afternoon, you can drink the last of the prep the morning of your appointment. If you have an exam before noon, you can take the last dose about four hours before the colonoscopy. It might make for an early morning, but you will be ready and less likely to have to reschedule due to incomplete preparation.
Studies have shown that split-dose regimens are easier to tolerate, and they clean the colon better — which helps your provider do a thorough evaluation. One study found that doctors find more benign tumors (adenomas) in people who prepared with split doses. Another study found that split-dose prep made prescreening bowel movements easier.
Afraid of having to drink a gallon of bad-tasting laxative solution? If so, you can rest easy — you’ve got options.Newer bowel-cleansing liquids are better tasting and you don’t have to drink as much. Some prep liquids include flavors and can have lower-volume dose sizes at 3 liters, 2 liters and 10 ounces. Lower-volume doses will require drinking extra liquids, such as water, to work best.
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Tips for preparing for colonoscopy
Colon cancer screening costs
If you have a colon, you are at risk for colon cancer. A colonoscopy is the best way to find and remove polyps (small growths that can become cancer) as well as small cancers before they can spread. The American Cancer society recommends colonoscopies for those at average risk of colon cancer starting at age 45. You may not love the prep, but you can have peace of mind that you’re taking steps to be cancer-free.
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