ToiletPapericon-colonpreptips

Prep – it’s one of the most dreaded steps involved in getting screened for colorectal cancer via colonoscopy. There’s a lot of reasons why. The prep drink tastes salty to some. Few enjoy a mad dash to the toilet. Plus, there’s several prep options to do and it can get confusing when GIs differ on which prep is best.

While teams are working on how to improve and better colonoscopy prep, the simple fact remains:  your entire colon needs cleaned out before this test. There’s no getting around that. (You do have other screening options, by the way, that do not require this entire colon cleanse.) But for a colonoscopy, everything has got to go. Literally.

Tips to Endure “Prep Night”

If you’ve chosen to undergo a colonoscopy for your colorectal cancer screening, we’re here to help. We polled some of our top volunteers – many of whom receive colonoscopies very frequently because of their personal cancer history or family risk.

Here’s some of their best tips for surviving the night before a colonoscopy:

chris-colonoscopypreptips

“Personally, I start decreasing the size of meals two days prior to starting prep. This makes for a much easier prep night. I’d also recommend getting a box of Dude Wipes prior to starting prep.” – Chris Ganser, survivor

amanda-colonoscopypreptips

“Here are several of my tips:  have plenty of clear liquids available (like broth); have something to sip after each drink of the prep; a few days before the test I like to start gently cleansing by drinking digestive tea once a day – it makes for a much easier and quicker prep; keep vaseline or coconut oil nearby; wear elastic-waisted pants (you will have no time to mess with buttons); start the prep a few hours earlier then recommended so it does not disrupt your sleep; charge your phone and get a good book to read (you will be in the bathroom a lot!); even if you’re running clear, drink the second half of the prep so you get an effective scope; remember that once you’re through the prep you’re through the worst part; LAST –  plan a good meal for afterwards – I always make my driver take me out for a big breakfast! Then, go home to nap.” – Amanda Houston, survivor

trish-colonoscopypreptips

“I avoid things like nuts, popcorn and seeds beginning the week prior. Same with avoiding things that are bright red. I try to stick with lighter-colored foods a few days prior. I don’t eat red meat a lot anyway, but I definitely don’t eat it the week before and I eat smaller portions of meat starting two days before my test. I make sure the prep I am drinking is cold. It makes it so much easier for me to drink it. Plus, I put it in my large Tervis Tumbler with a straw. For some reason drinking it with a straw helps me. After the colonoscopy, it is sooo important to EASE back into regular eating. I also take a probiotic for a few days afterwards to help my gut get back to normal.” Trish Lannon – survivor

walter-colonoscopypreptips

“I like a long, hot bath after the fireworks have calmed down. Nothing is more soothing and relaxing.” – Walter Hickman, survivor

maria-colonoscopypreptips

“I like to buy really soft TP before the test, it helps (along with some vaseline) to tame the savage beast.  I also find a cool wash cloth can help as well. I usually start a bland diet the entire week prior for just a few days. That really helps things move more smoothly.” – Maria Williams, advocates in memory of her friend Belle

sheila-colonoscopypreptips

“I taper my food a few days before and ease back into food afterwards. I avoid spicy stuff after the test, especially if they have removed a polyp.” – Sheila Schrack, survivor

kristin-colonoscopypreptips

“I treat my prep & colonoscopy like a special event. It is my cleanse, so I treat myself well during this time. I eat light, bland foods a couple of days leading up to the prep. I buy organic low-sodium broth and eat it for my lunch and dinner. I find a really good JELL-O and make it ahead. (Boxed JELL-O comes in so many different flavors.) I splurge on good apple juice – like Martinelli’s Gold Medal – it’s my favorite. I also buy white grape juice and usually some flavored sparkling water or Diet 7-UP to settle my stomach. I also drink the prep solution COLD and through a straw. It’s easier to suck it up. I know it’s hard to drink all of these liquids, but another thing I found very helpful is to drink Pedialyte. This hydrates me better than water. I become dehydrated very easily and it makes for difficulty when putting in my IV before the test. Drinking Pedialyte has helped tremendously. It also now comes in packets so you can mix it yourself. Of course the wipes are essential. One last thing I sometimes get is gummy bears – pull out the red and purple ones and suck on the light ones for a little treat.” – Kristen Keesen, survivor

marsha-colonoscopypreptips

“I also eat lighter meals about a week before the prep. For my first colonoscopy I had a chicken Philly sandwich for my last meal before the test, and that was a big mistake! The next time I had a nice dinner of salmon, rice, broccoli and salad. Everything went so much smoother. 😉 Definitely have some wipes available, I prefer Preparation H.” – Marsha Baker, dad passed away from colorectal cancer

What Do YOU think?

These are some of our tips for surviving prep night, but what are some of yours? Leave a comment and let us know! 

And, if you’re ready to meet some of these advocates, get involved! Sign up and share your story. Then, join our Advocates group on Facebook to connect. Let’s fight colorectal cancer together!

  • Was this information helpful?
  • yes   no

14 comments on “Colonoscopy Prep Tips”

  1. 1
    Dana cannon on June 2, 2017

    I find that if a take some of the prep then suck on a Lemon right after don’t get the seeds .It helps me so much ! Had a polyp as big as a grapefruit in my stomach at 27 . Surgery removed it. After removing my whole stomach . Now me and my two daughters have to get our colon checked often. I of my daughter ‘s had 80 polyps in her colon at the age of 16. Both daughters are doing awesome now . We all have no stomach. My other daughter has no stomach and just a little bit of her colon. We eat everything we want r doing great. But can’t wait for the day they get a better tasting prep . But the Lemon 🍋 helps so much!!

  2. 2
    Angie W on June 2, 2017

    Love the tips! I will defiantly try the eating smaller non meat based meals the week before.

  3. 3
    Trish Smith on June 2, 2017

    You know you gotta do what you gotta do and this is the way my doctor prescribes the prep that I feel is really the way to go….literally! It’s easy to get down and the finish time is early enough to get a good night’s rest before the colonoscopy.

    YOU WILL NEED THE FOLLOWING:
    *PLEASE NOTE*- No prescription is required. These items are all sold over the counter.
    You do not have to purchase the name brand, Generic works just as well.
    4 DULCOLAX tablets. (LAXATIVE NOT STOOL SOFTENER). Generic name is Bisacodyl.
    64 oz. of Gatorade or Powerade (CANNOT BE RED IN COLOR OR CONTAIN RED DYE).
    238 Gram bottle of Miralax (14 day supply). Generic name is Glycolax.
    You will need to mix your Miralax powder with your Gatorade or Powerade.
    *Please do NOT mix your solution more than 24 hours before you are going to start drinking it.*
    Before putting the Miralax powder into the bottle, you will need to pour a small amount of the liquid out to prevent it from overflowing.
    Mix the entire bottle (238 grams) of the Miralax powder with the Gatorade or Powerade.
    Refrigerate the mixed solution.
    DAY BEFORE THE PROCEDURE:
    At 4:00 pm, Take 4 DULCOLAX tablets by mouth.
    At 6:00 pm, Drink ONE 8 (eight) ounce GLASS OF THE MIRALAX/GATORADE SOLUTION MIXTURE every 15 minutes until half of the solution mixture is gone. (This should be 4, 8 oz glasses)
    At 8:00 pm, Drink ONE 8 (eight) ounce GLASS OF THE MIRALAX/GATORADE SOLUTION MIXTURE every 15 minutes until you have finished the remainder of the 64 oz. mixture. (This should be 4, 8 oz glasses)

  4. 4
    Cathy W. on June 2, 2017

    Clear broth, chicken or beef is very satisfying. It makes me feel so much better than using only the sweet options.

  5. 5
    Preparing for a Colonoscopy doesn't have to be scary. - Big Cheese Studios on June 25, 2017

    […] @FightCrC Colon Cancer Alliance […]

  6. 6
    Val Hopfinger on July 13, 2017

    I took Movi-Prep the night before, sipping it slowly as instructed, using a straw.
    After two hours I vomited it all up. Mild diarrhoea next morning, but then told by hospital they were cancelling my appointment as the prep hadn’t worked.
    Dreading the next time. Does anyone have any advice?

    1. 7
      Danielle Burgess on July 13, 2017

      Hey Val, there should be other prep options… I would ask your GI clinic. Some require prescription and costs vary, but you do have options when it comes to prep.

  7. 8
    Lindsey on July 25, 2017

    How did this prep work for you? My prescription is 89.00 and do not want to pay this! Having colonoscopy on Friday

    1. 9
      Danielle Burgess on August 1, 2017

      Hey Lindsey, one option is to work with the office and see if there’s any over-the-counter prep alternatives they can suggest, or any coupons or samples they can offer to help you get the prep you need.

  8. 10
    Momof2 on August 10, 2017

    Wanted to weigh in here as I had my first colonoscopy yesterday. Can I just say I don’t know what the big deal is with people? I lost a cousin to colon cancer at 36, leaving behind 2 toddlers and seeing that… well I decided to go at 51 years old.

    Any Moms out there – compared to childbirth this is a walk in the park. I thought I did something wrong because I kept waiting for some violent explosion or something but God’s honest truth having the Norovirus was 50 x’s worse than this colon prep. Seriously – Diarrhea – Yes, but not out of the ordinary. I read all the tips. I think the reason it was so easy was a few days before I changed my diet. It was scheduled for Wednesday 6:30am. Saturday before had Chinese with chicken, veggies, white rice. Stayed away from whole grains and nuts/fiber. Sunday I again just ate light, cheese pizza. Monday, white rice for breakfast, mashed potatoes for lunch, tuna sandwich for dinner. Prep day, coffee, tea, clear gummi bears at work. Started my prep at 4:30pm. Set up in the bathroom with laptop, radio, applied diaper rash cream, baby wipes. An hour later movement. But it was no big deal – again, nothing as violent like norovirus was. Drinking the lemon-lime prep – I did refrigerate in morning. Drank in big gulps with straw toward back of throat. Sucked on a lime in between. Was done in no time. Salty lemonade was the taste but not enough to make me vomit or anything. I wasn’t “rushing” into the bathroom either. I got a pkg of depends and wore them under a sundress just for piece of mind and ease off/on. Drank the rest of prep at 10:30pm. Was done at 11:30pm. My elimination looked like chicken broth at that point.

    With my depends on placed a towel on the bed just in case and went to bed. Woke up later just because I was thirsty/dehydrated but no big deal. Wore depends in car (did not need though). Got to hospital, twilight sedation – don’t remember a thing. They removed 3 polyps so awaiting pathology. Definitely glad I had a driver, was a little more groggy than I thought I would be. Hubby took me to breakfast, got home and took a nice nap. Piece of Cake. Don’t be scared of this. People need to read the directions and prep correctly. Also did learn that I could have asked for the prep where you only drink like 2-12oz bottles of a different prep and then sub in your own drinks in between. She said they automatically just give the gallon prep stuff because it is cheap for insurance ($5) and they know all insurances will pay for that one. But I know I’d rather just pay extra on my own and drink less next time. No big deal though.

    1. 11
      Danielle Burgess on August 10, 2017

      Great to hear you had such a positive experience and the tips for how you got ready days before. Thanks for sharing!

  9. 12
    Laura Stacet on August 10, 2017

    My boyfriend is having stomach issues. Nor sure what yet. He’s doing the colon prep. But he’s in big pain and he has thrown up. He has done half of the prep and he’s not going like he should. In fact, he’s hardly gone.at all. My question is, should he contenues the prep and just deal with the agonizing pain? He has a Dr. but doesn’t want to call him. He has the nausea pills and he did take one. But his pain is intense. Should he contenue?

    1. 13
      Danielle Burgess on August 14, 2017

      Hi Laura, this is a good question for his doctor. It can be hard to call, but best to work alongside the professionals who can help understand what’s happening.

  10. 14
    Karen on August 12, 2017

    thank you for sharing!!!!i was stressed because in the past i used HalfLIghtly prep where i did that the morning before the procedure and did not have to do it a second time later..i liked that one but guess it has been discontinued..so now this time will have to use one of the new ones..I have a hard time with change:) this will be my 4th colonoscopy..used the phosopho soda one the first time and then the HalfLIghtly twice..(i wonder if there is something out there that iworks like the Halflightly..got to do what gotto do..thanks all

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *