FAQ’s About Colonoscopy

Most Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Why can’t I eat or drink anything several hours before my colonoscopy?

Our first concern is your health and safety. You will be given sedatives to help you relax during your colonoscopy, and these medications affect your body’s ability to hold food and liquid in your stomach. If you eat or drink several hours before (actual time varies by doctor) your colonoscopy, there is a risk that food or liquid will travel up into your esophagus, where you could breathe it into your lungs. Your procedure will have to be rescheduled if you do not follow the preparation instructions provided by your doctor.

  1. Do I have to drink all of the solution to cleanse my colon? Try your best to drink all of the solution. Remember that the purpose is to clean out your entire digestive tract. If your colon is not clean, your doctor can’t do a thorough exam. You may have to reschedule your test for another day.
  1. What if I start vomiting while drinking the solution?

If you develop symptoms of nausea or vomiting, stop the prep for a few minutes, then resume the process. Go slower and drink one 8 oz. glass every 30 minutes instead of every 15 minutes.

  1. Why should I get up so early in the morning the day of the procedure to take some of the laxative?

Studies have shown that patients who take a dose of laxative six hours before the procedure tend to have cleaner colons. This minimizes your chances of having to reschedule your procedure or repeat your procedure sooner than the recommended guidelines (typically, every 5–10 years).

  1. What about the medications I regularly take?

You need to tell your doctor about all medical conditions and any drugs, vitamins, or nutritional supplements that you take regularly. If you are taking prescription

blood thinners (such as Coumadin® [warfarin], Pradaxa® [dabigatran etexilate], or Plavix® [clopidogrel]), please talk to your prescribing doctor at least seven days before your procedure. Please continue all medications unless your doctor tells you otherwise.

  1. What medications should I stop taking during the prep process and why?

You’ll receive directions about all the medications that you need to discontinue. If you have questions about a specific medication, call your prescribing doctor for additional directions.

  1. What medical conditions may affect my procedure?

If you have a history of constipation, cirrhosis, stroke, dementia, heart disease, or kidney disease, make sure you tell your doctor before your procedure.

  1. I hear that the preparation is hard. What can I do to make it easier?

To make it easier to empty your bowel before the colonoscopy, following these guidelines:  

  • Cut down on heavy solid foods two days before the procedure and start introducing lighter meals to your diet.
  • Recommended foods during the two days before a colonoscopy include: light meat that is easily digestible (such as chicken without skin); potatoes without skin; eggs; steamed white fish
  • Avoid the following high-fiber foods: fruits; nuts; red meat; brown rice; raw vegetables (such as salad); dairy products (such as cheese)
  • Avoid any heavy meals
  1. I am diabetic and my blood sugar will go too low if I do not eat any solid foods. What should I do?

Drink liquids with sugar the day before your procedure and do not stick to sugar-free drinks. You must consume 150–200 calories of carbs when you are on a liquid diet to maintain your blood sugar. To avoid having to reschedule your procedure, do not eat any solid foods during your preparation.

  1. Should I continue to take my diabetic medications the day before my procedure?

Since you are on a liquid diet, you may need to adjust your medication the day before your procedure. Details will be included in your instructions. Check your blood sugar regularly during your preparation. If your blood sugar is too high, you may not be able to receive anesthesia for your procedure.

  1. How do I prepare for a colonoscopy if I am constipated?

If you are constipated, you may need to be on a liquid diet two days before your procedure. You may also need to take additional laxatives to prepare for your colonoscopy. Before the procedure, make sure your doctor knows that you are constipated.

  1. Who is the Colon Prep Center? And what are the benefits of the program?

Our goal at the Colon Prep Center is to ensure that you have a successful procedure. Approximately 25–30% of patients have not properly cleansed their colon before a colonoscopy. As a result, they have to either reschedule your procedure or schedule another procedure sooner than the recommended guidelines.

The Colon Prep Center provides:

  • A personalized preparation program to ensure that your bowel is cleaned out effectively and less invasively for a successful colonoscopy
  • A well tolerated preparation program that is half the volume (1/2 gallon) of some prescription medications
  • Preparation products that are sent directly to your home
  • Easy-to-understand directions, including photos
  • Beneficial reminders and helpful tips regarding your appointment, including medication reminders and appointment reminder and dietary information.
  • Educational videos to help you feel more informed about the procedure
  • A number to call for information any time: 800.349.0285
  1. Are Colon Prep Center products gluten free?

Yes, all products are gluten free.

  1. Why doesn’t MEDICAID, MEDICARE, or other insurance company pay for the prep medication?

The products provided in the preparation package are over-the-counter medications, meaning they do not require a prescription. Most insurance companies only reimburse prescription medications. 

Resources for More Information 

American Cancer Society 

CDC Division of Cancer Prevention and Control 

Screen for Life: The National Colorectal Cancer Action Center www.cdc.gov/cancer/screenforlife

American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons 

Foundation For Digestive Health and Nutrition 

National Cancer Institute 

Colon Cancer Foundation