One of the most challenging parts of preparing for your colonoscopy is the bowel cleanse required before the procedure. The laxative drink you take the day before your colonoscopy typically causes you to lose a large amount of fluid and may cause you to have nausea, fatigue, and headaches due to dehydration.
You can avoid dehydration and some of the associated feelings of illness by planning ahead for your colonoscopy preparation and having hydrating drinks on hand at least two days before the colonoscopy. In addition, properly hydrating before a colonoscopy makes it easy for your nurse to place your IV before the procedure.
In this article, you will learn about the drinks you can and cannot drink in the days before a colonoscopy, what happens if you fail to follow the drink restrictions and you will be shown a sample hydration plan.
Disclaimer: Your physician will give you specific directions about how to prepare for the bowel cleanse, including matching the drinks and medications you need to avoid according to your personal medical history. This article is meant to inform you about what a typical hydration plan before a colonoscopy would look like and not as a specific regimen for you to follow. These dietary directions can only be provided by the physician who is performing your colonoscopy.
Before your colonoscopy there is no limit to how much liquid you can drink, but there are certain types of drinks you need to avoid. The day before your procedure, it is typically required that all drinks must be clear and can not contain any form of red or purple coloring (natural or artificial). However, you can drink non-clear drinks two days before your procedure unless of course they are red or purple colored. Additionally, you can ease the discomfort of the bowel cleanse by eating low-fiber foods and drinking liquids that promote healthy digestion a few days before the procedure.
Ingredients you typically are asked to avoid in the several days preceding your colonoscopy include:
Here is a list of liquid options for you to choose from in the days before your colonoscopy:
Drinking herbal teas before your colonoscopy and during the bowel cleanse can help ease stress, reduce nausea, and improve digestion. You can add sweetener such as honey to your tea to help improve the taste. Just be sure the liquid is clear and you can see through it if you are drinking these teas the day of your bowel cleanse.
The following is a short list of teas you can drink. Always be sure to consult with your physician about any herbal tea you are planning to drink to be sure it is safe and does not interact with any medications you are currently taking. Popular choices include:
Nutritious smoothies are an excellent way to pack in protein, vitamins, and calories into your diet. When you are preparing or ordering a smoothie, there are certain ingredients you need to avoid. The ingredients you typically need to avoid include:
Broths are an excellent way to stay hydrated and can be a viable source of protein. Popular options include:
Hydrating drinks are an essential part of any pre-colonoscopy plan. The following clear liquids are typically approved:
Just because you have a colonoscopy scheduled, doesn’t mean you have to skip out on sweets altogether. Here are some sweet beverage and dessert options that are typically acceptable:
It is important that you stay well-hydrated before and after your colonoscopy. You do not want to become nauseated or dehydrated during the preparation and the colonoscopy itself as a result of dehydration.
Despite that, however, you still need to practice prudence when choosing what to drink and carefully read the ingredients to make sure they do not contain anything you need to avoid. Doing so insures a smooth bowel cleanse and allows your physician a clear visualization of your rectum and colon. The two most common mistakes people make in choosing liquids are:
Drinking foods or liquids that are not recommended before your colonoscopy can have the following consequences:
Overall: You should avoid all clear liquids that are red or purple colored and alcohol. Red and purple dye interferes with your colonoscopy results because the color can mask the lining and disguise abnormal tissue growths.
In the morning:
Overall: One day before your colonoscopy you will be asked to stop eating all solid foods and be on a clear-liquid diet.The definition of a clear liquid is one that you can see through with no pulp or solids present. For instance, if your liquid is in a bowl or glass and you can see right through the substance then it is considered a clear liquid. The liquid can be clear, yellow, green, orange, or blue. 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 to stay hydrated:
Danahy, A. (2019, July 09). The definition of a clear liquid diet for a colonoscopy. Retrieved from Livestrong: https://www.livestrong.com/article/275954-the-definition-of-a-clear-liquid-diet-for-colonoscopy/
Harvard Health Writing Staff. (2020, August 31). Preparing for a colonoscopy: Diet, tips, and instructions for a smooth colonoscopy prep. Retrieved from Harvard Health Publishing: https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/preparing-for-a-colonoscopy
Kahi, C. J., et., al. (2016, March). Colonoscopy surveillance after colorectal cancer resection: recommendations of the US multi-society task force on colorectal cancer. Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, 83(3), 489-498.e10. Retrieved from Science Direct: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0016510716000468
Lahey Health. (2019, April 01). Low-fiber diet for colonoscopy. Retrieved from Beth Israel Layel Health: https://www.lahey.org/article/low-fiber-diet-for-colonoscopy/