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If your doctor has recommended a colonoscopy, and you’ve never had one before, you may be a little freaked out. After all, most of us are pretty private about our colons…and all related plumbing. But colonoscopies can be very helpful in revealing issues happening in our lower intestines and colon, and after a certain age (around 50) you’ll need to undergo routine ones to look for things like polyps or colon cancer. If you’re like most people, you forget to ask all the questions you mean to ask when you’re in the doctor’s office, because you’re just too overwhelmed with information. And, you may just not know what questions to ask. So here are some things to know before going in for your first colonoscopy.

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Image Source: Shutterstock

You’ll get a preparation letter

Your doctor will send you a preparation letter a few weeks before your procedure telling you how to get ready for your colonoscopy. Don’t disregard it; it has instructions you need to start early.

Red food dye is off limits

Okay here’s the reader’s digest version: don’t eat foods with red dye in them about a week before your procedure–that dye can look like blood to your doctor during the procedure.
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Seeds are off limits

Foods with lots of little seeds–like granola–should be avoided too since these can get stuck in your colon and interfere with the procedure.
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You’ll fast the day before

Your doctor needs your intestines as clean as a whistle for your procedure. The day before, you’ll be asked to fast entirely.
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But you can eat jello

You can, however, eat all the jello you want the day before. Stock up on it before the fast because going to the grocery store while fasting is torture. Don’t forget; skip the red jello.
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You’ll take an intense laxative the day before

For the entire day leading up to your procedure, you’ll take an intense laxative. In most cases, you’ll have to carry a jug of the stuff around and drink it every half hour or so. And it tastes pretty bad.
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Don’t leave the house

The laxative is meant to thoroughly clean you out, and it works very well. Don’t leave your house because you’ll be on the toilet every 15 minutes.
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You’ll run clear

You’ll know the laxative is working when you’re literally only releasing laxative. In other words, you’ll poop clear liquid.

Trying to sleep is tough

You may not be able to get much sleep the night before the procedure since you have to take your laxative at regular intervals of time. So take the day off work after the procedure so you can rest.
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It might still work the day of

For many patients, the laxative is still very active the morning of their procedure. That’s okay; this doesn’t interfere with the procedure. You’ll be sedated, anyhow.
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Speaking of sedation

You most likely won’t be put entirely under. So, if you want, you can look at the screen and watch what the camera is catching inside of your body. Although, it’s not entirely recommended…
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You’ll feel a little pressure

You won’t feel any discomfort or pain, but you may feel a tiny pressure as the camera moves around inside of you.
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You’ll be starving after

You’ve been fasting, after all. So when the procedure is over, you’ll want to eat everything in the kitchen. But don’t because your system is sensitive, and you may end up throwing up. Eat something easy to digest like toast.
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Your butt will hurt a little

You did have the long tube of a camera up it for about a half hour so, yeah, your rectum will hurt for a day or two after the procedure.
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Image Source: Shutterstock

You’ll get results almost immediately

The great thing about a colonoscopy is that your doctor can see almost immediately if there are any issues. And if there aren’t, he can see that clearly, too. He may give you a bill of clean health on the spot.
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