Colonoscopy FAQ

  1. Why do I feel light-headed?
    Dizziness and headache could be signs of low blood sugar or low blood pressure. Drinking a regular carbonated beverage (not diet or red or purple coloring) or apple juice may alleviate these symptoms.
  2. What is the best clear liquid to take?Doctor and Patient
    Gatorade, which comes in many flavors, and chicken or beef broth are excellent choices as they contain electrolytes such as potassium. Avoid RED or PURPLE liquids.
  3. Why avoid red or purple liquids?
    The colors can persist in the colon and give the appearance of gastrointestinal bleeding.
  4. Should I take my usual medications on the morning of the procedure?
    Medications for blood pressure, heart conditions and seizures should be taken the morning of your exam regardless of the color of the pill, tablet or liquid. Please follow the instructions you were given at your office visit or during your nurse assessment. If you are unsure, please call our office at (413) 586-8910.
  5. Is there any way that I can make the prep taste better?
    You can try sucking on hard candy (avoiding the red or purple colors). You can rinse your mouth with water or a mouthwash. Citrus sodas, such as Fresca, can be helpful in covering the taste or you can add Crystal Light flavoring to your water. Do not eat or drink anything other than approved liquids while you are drinking the solution.
  6. I already had diarrhea before taking the prep, do I still have to take the laxative?
    Yes, you must take the prep as directed by your doctor. Your colon is approximately 6 feet long. The entire colon must be emptied for your physician to see the colon clearly. There could be solid stool higher in the colon that needs to be eliminated.
  7. I see yellow color in the toilet bowl and a few flecks. What do I do?
    If your last bowel movements were clear enough that you were able to see the bottom of the toilet you should be fine. It is okay if you have some flecks of material. The yellow color is a result of the bile that normally colors the feces. This should not interfere with the exam.
  8. My bottom is so sore. What can I do?
    To clean the area, avoid rubbing. Gently pat with a wet washcloth or moist tissue paper. Apply Vaseline, Preparation H, Desitin or Vitamin A & D ointment sparingly.
  9. Can I drink alcoholic beverages?
    We highly suggest you do not drink any alcoholic beverages prior to your procedure since they can cause dehydration.
  10. Can I chew gum?
    Yes, but nothing with soft centers or red or purple coloring.FAQ
  11. Can I drive myself?
    It’s a policy at our office, Cooley Dickinson Hospital and Valley Medical Group, that you can not drive home after being sedated for the procedure, nor take a taxi, bus or walk home. You must arrange to have a driver.
  12. Can I brush my teeth?
    Yes.
  13. Can I wear my dentures?
    Yes, you may wear you dentures to the endoscopy suite. However, you may be asked to remove them prior to the procedure.
  14. I have been instructed not to take anti-inflammatory medications or blood thinners several days before the procedure. What can I take for headaches and pain relief?
    You may take Tylenol (acetaminophen) as directed.
  15. Can I have a colonoscopy done if I am having my menstrual period?
    Yes, the procedure can still be performed. We ask that you use a tampon if possible (not absolutely necessary).
  16. Do I need a prescription for the laxatives?
    It depends on the preparation instructions you were given. Miralax is a prescription medication; Fleets Phospho-soda does require a prescription; GoLytely/HalfLytely does require a prescription; Mag Citrate does not require a prescription.
  17. What should I do if I take insulin?
    Call your doctor’s office at least five days before the procedure and ask for instructions.
  18. What should I do if I take Coumadin (Warfarin)?
    Call our office or your cardiologist at least seven days before your procedure. If your doctor tells you that you cannot stop the Coumadin, please call us immediately to make us aware of this. We will then discuss with you the options available for doing a procedure while on Coumadin.
  19. What should I do if I take iron?
    If you are having a colonoscopy, stop the iron five days before the procedure. Iron can interfere with the colonoscopy preparation resulting in a poorly cleaned colon. You do not need to stop iron if you are having an upper endoscopy only.
  20. What should I do if I take herbal medications?
    It is best to stop any herbal remedies five days before the procedure as some of them can thin the blood and increase the risk of bleeding during the procedure.
  21. Will I require antibiotics for my procedure?Doctor and Patient
    Most patients do not require antibiotics for either upper endoscopy or colonoscopy. However, if you have had valvular heart disease or endocarditis, please call our office for instructions at least five days before the procedure. Of note, artificial joints, pacemakers and automatic implantable defibrillators do not generally require antibiotics.
  22. What are the potential complications of an upper endoscopy?
    An endoscopy is generally safe. Complications can occur, but are rare when the test is performed by physicians with specialized training and experience in this procedure. Bleeding may occur from a biopsy site or where a polyp was removed. It is usually minimal and rarely requires blood transfusions or surgery. Localized irritation of the vein where the intravenous line was placed and medication was injected may rarely cause a tender lump lasting for several weeks, but this will go away eventually. Applying heat packs or hot moist towels may help relieve discomfort. Other potential risks include a reaction to the sedatives used and complications from heart or lung diseases. Major complications, eg, perforation (a tear that might require surgery for repair) are very uncommon.It is important for you to recognize early signs of any possible complication. If you begin to run a fever after the test, begin to have trouble swallowing, or have increasing throat, chest or abdominal pain, let our office know immediately.
  23. What are the potential complications of a colonoscopy?
    A colonoscopy and a polypectomy are generally safe when performed by physicians who have been specially trained and are experienced in these endoscopic procedures.One possible complication is a perforation or tear through the bowel wall that could require surgery. Bleeding may occur from the site of biopsy or polyp removal. It is usually minor and stops on its own or can be controlled through the colonoscope. Rarely, blood transfusions or surgery may be required. Other potential risks include a reaction to the sedatives used and complications from heart or lung disease. Localized irritation of the vein where the intravenous line was placed and medications were injected may rarely cause a tender lump lasting for several weeks, but this will go away eventually. Applying hot packs or hot moist towels may help relieve discomfort.Although complications after a colonoscopy are uncommon, it is important for you to recognize early signs of any possible complication. Contact our office if you notice any of the following symptoms: sever abdominal pain, fever and chills or rectal bleeding of more than one half-cup. Bleeding can occur several days after a polypectomy.

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