6 Truths You Need To Know About Your Colonoscopy

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If you have to get your first colonoscopy, you're probably very nervous. No one wants a camera up their rear-end. Thinking about the whole process probably makes you uncomfortable, but you to separate fact from fiction when it comes to colonoscopies, so you can feel better about your procedure. Here is what you need to know about your colonoscopy.

Prep Isn't Horrible

Horror stories about colonoscopy prep are what seem to frighten patients the most. During the prep, you need to make sure your colon is as clean as possible before the procedure. While every office is a little different, the prep could include prescription laxatives and an enema right before the procedure. You will also need to drink large amounts of water for the few days before your procedure to help clear your colon. The prep isn't horrible or painful. You will just spend a little more time using the bathroom than usual.

Colonoscopies Aren't Painful

Having a scope go into your intestine sounds painful, but it's not. Before your colonoscopy, your doctor will use a sedation method. Some doctors will provide deep sedation while others will use anti-anxiety medication to keep you relaxed. There are conflicting beliefs about how much sedation is necessary for a colonoscopy, so different doctors use different methods. Even if your doctor doesn't provide deep sedation, you don't need to worry about pain. A colonoscopy is not a painful procedure.

The Procedure Isn't Embarrassing

Most likely, your fear of embarrassment will outweigh the actual embarrassment. Your procedure will be done by a doctor who has likely done hundreds, if not thousands, of colonoscopies. The procedure isn't any worse than receiving a prostate or pelvic exam. While it's probably not on the top of your to-do list, once it's over, you'll realize that you had nothing to worry about. You will remain completely covered during the procedure and all eyes will be on the screen, not on you.

Colonoscopies Are Necessary, Even If You Don't Have Symptoms

A colonoscopy is a routine procedure to check for cancer. You might need to schedule one due to abdominal pain, but you should receive one annually after age 50. Routine colonoscopies check for colon cancer. Colon cancer most often presents itself with no symptoms at all for a long time. Unfortunately, this causes it to go undetected until the tumor is large enough to be considered deadly. Colon cancer is deadly once it reaches the size of a walnut. This makes it even more important that you are checked for colon polyps on a regular basis. If you catch colon cancer in the early stages, it's easily removable.

You Won't Have A Recovery Period

You don't need to avoid colonoscopies because you can't afford to burn all of your vacation days every year on the recovery period. A colonoscopy requires no hospital stay afterward. You don't have to worry about being laid up in bed either. While you might need to take it easy the rest of the day, mostly due to sedation, you can be out of bed and back to work the following day. Between the prep and the procedure, you likely won't miss more than two days of work.

You Won't Starve During Prep

One thing that deters a lot of people from colonoscopies is that they can't eat for 24 hours before the procedure. Not eating for 24 hours isn't fun for anyone, but it's a necessary part of the procedure, and it definitely won't cause any adverse health effects. During the period of no food, you're encouraged to drink as much water as possible. Your stomach and intestines being full of water will satisfy most of your hunger.

Colonoscopies are a necessary part of making sure your body is healthy and cancer-free. While the prep and procedure is slightly more invasive than other cancer screenings, it's not as bad as it sounds. The entire process is over in 48 hours and you can hopefully celebrate your clean bill of health.