Bathroom Preparation For Your Colonoscopy Prep
A colonoscopy can be a stressful experience for quite a few patients. The preparation before the procedure requires a restricted diet that culminates with a clear liquid diet and an intensive bowel cleansing. There is also the added anxiety of a screening procedure that tests for colon cancer and the concern about the results of the test can make you lose sleep the night before. In light of these anxieties, we here at Colonoscopy.com propose an article that illuminates an approach to the bathroom to help your preparation become less stressful and more comfortable.
Bathroom Preparation For Your Colonoscopy Prep
Preparing Your Bathroom
You will be spending a good amount of time in the bathroom during the cleanse. While it may seem strange, you can make the experience more pleasant if you set up your bathroom with special amenities and relaxing entertainment close at hand.
The following list of items can help your bottom feel more comfortable during the process:
- Medicated and non-medicated wet wipes
- Double-ply soft toilet paper
- Creams or oils – such as coconut oil or diaper rash ointment
- Relaxing essential oils (lavender is wonderful) and diffuser
- Comfortable underwear and pants
The bowel preparation process can take a few hours and you probably will not want to leave the bathroom at a certain point. In this case, you can make your bathroom a true throne room by creating a calm and relaxing environment.
The process can take a few hours and you probably will not want to leave the bathroom at a certain point. In this case, you can make your bathroom a true throne room. Spend time before you drink the laxative in cleaning your bathroom and transforming the space into an inviting and calming environment.
The following suggestions can help you pass the time in an enjoyable manner:
- Light candles and soak in a bubble bath while you wait for the bowel prep to kick in.
- Purchase or borrow from the library a good book you have been meaning to read but have not set aside the time.
- Set up your laptop or tablet in a good viewing position from the toilet to watch a funny movie or inspiring documentary.
- Be sure you have your chargers in arm’s reach and make sure your devices are fully charged.
- If you live with friends or family, ask them to give you space and time to not be disturbed during your prep.
What to Expect During Your Bowel Cleanse
Before you begin your bowel cleanse, be sure to read carefully through the instructions that your physician has given you. It is important that you follow these instructions to avoid complications during the procedure and improve the ability of your physician to clearly visualize the lining of the colon to detect polyps. An incomplete bowel cleanse may have the following consequences:
- Increases complexity of procedure and causes technical difficulties
- Increases risk of bowel perforation
- Physician needs more time to complete examination
- Physician may not complete colonoscopy and it must be retaken
- Fecal matter left behind may hide polyps or adenomas
You may have been given instructions to follow a specialized low-fiber diet for the few days before your colonoscopy. This diet will help your bowel cleanse go more smoothly and helps to limit the possibility that thick stool is left behind as fibrous foods take longer to transit through the colon.
The laxative drink that you take before the bowel cleanse helps to expel all stool from the colon before the colonoscopy. Some people feel the effects of the solution within 30 minutes of drinking it. Expect the first bowel movement to be a combination of firm, semi-firm, and loose brown stools. Your stools should change in color as time progresses from brown liquid, to a cloudy liquid, and then lastly, a yellowish clear liquid. If your liquid stool is cloudy then that means your bowel prep is still not complete. Be sure to complete all the steps of your prep.
You may have uncomfortable side effects during your cleanse, including:
- Stomach cramping
- Gas or bloating
Some of these side effects, such as stomach cramping and gas, can be relieved with a hot compress and gentle walking around the house. Vomiting can be a serious side effect that leads to dehydration. Be sure to contact your doctor if you are unable to stop vomiting or are experiencing signs of dehydration, such as a small amount of urine that is bright yellow or orange.
Being well-hydrated and having a good night’s rest before your procedure will help you feel physically and mentally prepared for the day ahead. The colonoscopy itself is typically quick and relatively painless, especially when you are sedated. However, a healthy mind and body is important before any medical procedure and it is advised that you rest well and are sufficiently hydrated to avoid any unnecessary complications.
Your physician will usually give you a timeline that suggests when you should begin drinking the laxative solution. It is wise to begin the process with plenty of time to spare so you are not running to the bathroom in the middle of the night and sleeping next to the toilet in the early hours of the morning. In some cases, you may be given a “split-dose”. This means you will take one half of the laxative the evening before your procedure and the other half the morning of the colonoscopy. No matter which type of dosage you are given, it is important you give your body enough time to process the medication and for it to work.
Every person has a different response time to the bowel prep. Where one person may feel the laxative work within minutes, another may have to wait several hours before it works. Be sure to set aside an appropriate amount of time to finish the cleanse to allow yourself a peaceful night’s rest.
A common complication from bowel preparation is dehydration due to the amount of fluid that is lost during the cleanse itself. Make it a point to have plenty of hydrating options near you when you are in the bathroom. You can begin hydrating before you drink the solution and continue drinking clear liquids throughout the day. Of course, the more fluids you take in, the better your chances are that you will not become dehydrated the evening before or during the procedure. A sign that you are well-hydrated is light yellow colored urine and the liquid you take in seems to almost equal what leaves (in the form of urine).
Drink these throughout the day and evening to stay hydrated:
- Water with lime or peppermint leaves (strained)
- Herbal teas (as approved by your physician)
- Nourishing clear broth (chicken, beef, or vegetable)
- Clear fruit-flavored protein drinks (not red or purple)
- Clear fruit juice (no prune, red, or purple)
- Ice pops
- Italian ice
A Good Night’s Rest
Your physician will usually give you a timeline that suggests when you should begin drinking the laxative solution. It is wise to begin the process with plenty of time to spare so you are not running to the bathroom in the middle of the night and sleeping next to the toilet in the early hours of the morning. In some cases, you may be given a “split-dose”. This means you will take one half of the laxative the evening before your procedure and the other half the morning of the colonoscopy. No matter which type of dosage you are given, it is important you give your body enough time to process the medication and for it to work. Every person has a different response time, where one person may feel the laxative work within minutes, another may have to wait several hours before it works. Just give yourself the time to allow yourself a peaceful night’s rest.
Gardner, A. (2019, September 06). 6 Side effects of colonoscopy prep you should know about. Retrieved from Livestrong: https://www.livestrong.com/article/161147-side-effects-of-colonoscopy-prep/
Hautefeuille, G., et., al. (2014, February). Factors related to bowel cleansing failure before colonoscopy: Results of the PACOME study. United European Gastroenterology Journal, 2(1), 22-29. Retrieved from PMC: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4040799/
Wilkinson, J. (2019, December 01). How to know when bowel prep is complete. Retrieved from Verywellhealth: https://www.verywellhealth.com/how-do-you-know-when-your-bowel-prep-is-complete-797611#precautions-before-you-begin
Worrall, S. (2019, September 06). Colonoscopy prep: 8 expert tips for the night before. Retrieved from Fight Colorectal Cancer: https://fightcolorectalcancer.org/blog/colonoscopy-prep-tips/