While it’s certainly an inconvenience, the payoff of a colonoscopy is worth it: In patients followed for up to 20 years, deaths from colorectal cancer were cut by 53% in those whose doctors removed precancerous growths called polyps during the test, reported a study in the New England Journal of Medicine. To make your prep a little easier, ask your healthcare team about trying these tips that other folks swear by.
To prepare days beforehand
- “Don’t get yourself too worked up! Once you get to the procedure, you’ll be enjoying a nice nap—it’s easier than getting a cavity filled!” —Tim M.
- “The day before your clear-liquid day, eat a large breakfast, small lunch and tiny dinner. It will make prep much easier.” —Lynn B.
To make the solution tolerable
- “Stick it in the freezer before you drink it. It kills a lot of the bad taste.” —Adam M.
- “Use a straw. It helps it go down faster and you don’t really taste it.” —Diane M.
To stave off hunger
- “Don’t let anybody cook anything. You can’t eat, and when you smell food, it makes you hungry!”—Nancy M.
To soothe irritated skin
- “Diaper rash ointment! Use it right from the start to prevent pain!” —Shannah B.
- “Flushable wipes—chill them in the fridge. There are no words for this level of soothing during prep day!”—Nancy M.
- “Softest toilet paper money can buy.” —Steve T.
Colonoscopy pre-prep shopping list
- Medicated wipes (e.g., Tucks, baby wipes)
- Magazines or books
- Skin-soothing lotion (e.g., Preparation H, diaper rash cream)
- Your favorite clear liquids and ices, such as ice pops, Jell-O, clear broth, apple or white grape juice, coffee or tea.