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How does colonoscopy prep work?

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Colonoscopy preps work by emptying out the contents of the lower intestine and rectum prior to a colonosopy procedure, explains WebMD. The steps of a colonoscopy prep can vary depending on specific physician instructions; however, patients must often take laxatives, consume liquid diets and receive enema treatments.

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Patients must typically prepare for colonoscopies for the entire day prior to the procedure as well as for a portion of the day on which the colonoscopy takes place, explains the American College of Gastroenterology. While there are several prep options, the most commonly utilized treatment requires patients to consume a polyethylene glycol solution on the day prior to and the day of the colonoscopy. The solution causes diarrhea, which in turn empties out the colon and rectum.

In addition to flushing the intestines, individuals must usually avoid solid foods for up to 24 hours prior to colonoscopy procedures, explains Mayo Clinic. It is important for patients who take blood pressure medications, blood thinners or iron supplements to advise their physicians of their specific regimens, as they may need to adjust or stop the medication or supplement intake for the duration of the procedure. Patients should not consume red liquids during this time as the red coloring is similar in appearance to blood and can interfere with the test.

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