Module 1. Understanding and Preparing for Colonoscopy
What are bowel prep medications?
Before you go for your colonoscopy, you will need to drink a bowel preparation medication (often called bowel prep) to clean out your colon. Bowel preps are prescription and over the counter medications that cause diarrhea for several hours, in order to flush the stool out of your colon and leave it clean so that your doctor can optimally examine the lining of your colon. Bowel prep medications require that you drink large volumes of clear liquid and stay well hydrated during the process. There are several types of bowel prep medication, so talk to your doctor about which one is right for you. It is very important to tell your doctor if you have heart disease, diabetes, or a kidney condition because each of these will affect the kind of bowel prep that you need. Some tips to help make drinking bowel prep easier include: chill your medication in the refrigerator beforehand, drink your medication through a straw, add flavor to help it taste better, and very importantly, plan ahead. Plan to stay home during your bowel prep, and stay near a bathroom for a few hours until the effects of your prep medication have worn off. It is very important to drink lots of water or clear liquids before and after your colonoscopy. However, do not drink anything up to 2 to 4 hours before your procedure, depending on the instructions your doctor provides. Before that, you can drink as much water or clear liquid as you wish. A successful colonoscopy cannot be done without a complete and thorough bowel cleansing, so be sure to follow the exact instructions that your doctor gives you.
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This educational activity has been developed by Mechanisms in Medicine Inc. This activity is endorsed by the Colon Cancer Coalition.
This activity is supported by an independent educational grant from Boston Scientific and Ferring Pharmaceuticals.
This website is part of the Animated Patient™ series developed by Mechanisms in Medicine Inc., to provide highly visual formats of learning for patients to improve their understanding, make informed decisions, and partner with their health care professionals for optimal outcomes.