Colonoscopy Prep Tips

Before you go through a colonoscopy, you must first go through the "prep," a word that refers to the preparation process as well as the drink that patients consume to clear the bowels before the procedure. Prep can take about 16 hours and is done in close proximity to a bathroom. These tips will help you get through the process of purging your bowels of food the evening before the colonoscopy takes place. 

Mix the Prep for Easier Consumption

Your doctor will recommend his or her preferred laxative before the procedure. Mixing the prep with another drink may help disguise the flavor of the prep, which will make it easier to consume. Try mixing the prep with a drink you like but don't love. Mixing your prep with your favorite drink could cause you to associate that drink with the bowel prep mixture, and may lessen your enjoyment of that drink for the future. 

If possible, mix your prep with an electrolyte-replacing sports drink. Avoid mixing prep with anything that contains red food coloring, as this can look like blood in the intestine during the colonoscopy. Clear liquids are the only acceptable type of drink that can be mixed with bowel prep. Pulpy liquids like orange juice and cloudy drinks like milk can cause the inside of the intestines to be cloudy during the colonoscopy. Have your doctor approve anything that you mix with the prep to ensure that it won't cause complications. 

Prepare Your Home

Hopefully your home has two bathrooms -- one for you, and one for the other members of your household. If not, you may want to make arrangements for any children in the house to stay with relatives during the prep process. Once you've laid claim to a bathroom, you'll want to keep the following items on hand:

  • Soft toilet paper. The bowel-clearing process requires a lot of toilet paper. To aid with your comfort during the prep, buy the softest type of toilet paper you can. 
  • Adult wipes. Adult wipes are the softer and more absorbent version of baby wipes, and they're helpful for self-cleanup after a long stretch in the bathroom.
  • Entertainment. Buy reading material, load up your phone with podcasts or buy a cheap portable DVD player so you'll have something to do while you're on the toilet. For best results, stock up on a variety of entertainment sources -- magazines, books, movies and more. 

For more tips and information about prepping for your colonoscopy, speak with your healthcare provider. He or she will be able to make recommendations that can help the prep process go smoothly.