How to Survive a Colonoscopy Prep Day in 10 Steps

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If you have inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) or need to receive a routine colonoscopy, you're going to have to have a colonoscopy prep day. A prep day typically occurs the day before your procedure in order to cleanse your colon. This is necessary so that your gastroenterologist can clearly see what's going on in your digestive tract. But prep days can be rough, so we compiled our top 10 tips for getting through it.


  1. Talk with your gastroenterologist

A gastroenterologist (GI) is the doctor that orders a colonoscopy for you. It's important that you have a thorough discussion with your GI so you know what to expect before, during, and after your procedure. Ask about the time of day you're having your procedure, if you need to bring someone with you, and if there are any symptoms you should expect after your procedure. You can also talk with your GI about the different prep solutions available to you, or which ones they prefer.


  1. Choose your prep solution

You have a choice when it comes to your colonoscopy prep. Most GI doctors will give you a prescription for a prep kit like MoviPrep or Suprep that you can pick up at your pharmacy. These contain a solution you drink to cleanse your bowels. These kits may have an unpleasant taste and cause symptoms like chills and vomiting. If you're worried, ask your GI if you can do a prep with Miralax mixed with Gatorade instead. This option causes fewer side effects and has a more pleasant taste.


  1. Pick out your liquids

Most GIs recommend a clear liquid diet the day before a colonoscopy. This means no solid food and nothing with red food coloring.

There are many clear liquids you can choose from, including: popsicles (great for nausea), clear gummy bears (helps to give you that chewing sensation), strained soups (try straining chicken noodle rather than just eating plain chicken broth), soda, Gatorade or other sports drinks, and Jell-O.

It’s important to stay hydrated during your prep day, so make sure you're drinking water, too.


  1. Find an activity to do on your prep day

Prep days can seem like they take significantly longer than 24 hours. With a ban on solid foods and the knowledge of what lies ahead, you may feel anxious, and the day may feel like it’s dragging.

To help take your mind off things, find an activity to focus on. Maybe grab a coloring book, or pick out another craft to keep your brain occupied. Some people make bracelets or paint on their prep day. Find an activity you enjoy — maybe one you haven't had a lot of time to focus on for a while.


  1. Avoid work or school on your prep day, if you can

Seriously. Do not go to work or school on your prep day. It can be hard to explain to coworkers and bosses why you're not eating throughout the day. It's a lot better to stay home, especially if you're only consuming clear liquids and spending a lot of time in the bathroom. Because you aren't getting as many calories in as you normally would, you can find yourself getting tired easily, and it's better to be in a place where you can nap when you need it.


  1. Make a game out of drinking your prep solution

For most prep solutions, you have a specified time limit in which to drink a lot of the solution. For instance, your prep might want you to drink 8 ounces every fifteen minutes. At first, this might seem easy, but it becomes increasingly difficult the more prep you drink. So, make a game out of it. Give yourself some kind of reward for every 15 minutes you drink all 8 ounces. Write inspirational notes on your prep bottle, like "Only 8 more to go!" to keep you motivated. When you gamify the drinking experience, it can make your prep consumption a lot easier.


  1. Watch your favorite movie on a laptop or tablet

Once your prep starts to kick in, you won't be leaving your bathroom for a long time. Sometimes, it can be easier just sticking it out on the toilet, if you can, so you're not making trips back and forth to the bathroom constantly.

Have a tablet or laptop? Queue up your favorite movie and take your device into the bathroom with you — that way you're not left to stare at shampoo bottles. A funny movie can help keep your mind off how you're feeling and what you're experiencing.


  1. Stock up on wipes

Baby wipes are preferred. You're going to be passing a lot of bowel movements, and using toilet paper can make your booty feel raw and irritated. While you can't flush baby wipes, they are soothing and can help you avoid chafing and irritation. Keep a trash bag to put your used wipes in for easy disposal. Or, try out some of the flushable wipes on the market. Buy two packs so there's no chance of you running out.

  1. Ask a friend or family member to join you

This can seem crazy, but sometimes a friend or family member hanging around while you're doing your prep isn't so bad. They can take part in your prep game, help you with a craft or activity, or maybe even strain a soup for you. Doing a prep can be emotionally taxing, but when you have someone you love nearby, it can help to alleviate the emotional toll. It also helps if they're the same person taking you to your procedure, so they can fill your doc in on your prep day, if necessary.


  1. You’ve got this!

There's no easy way around it: Prep days can be difficult and feel never-ending. Whether you're undergoing prep for a colonoscopy for IBD or to screen for colon cancer, it's going to be a taxing day mentally and physically. But, by incorporating things you enjoy — from activities to tastier clear liquids — you can make your prep day a little more bearable.