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How do you prepare for a colonoscopy?

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Quick Answer

To prepare for a colonoscopy, try to completely empty your colon by subsisting on clear liquids and avoiding solid foods for 24 hours before the procedure, notes Mayo Clinic. You may need to use a laxative or perform an enema at home to ensure the colon is clear.

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It is especially important to avoid drinking red liquids that can be mistaken by a doctor as blood during a colonoscopy exam, explains Mayo Clinic. Some patients may need to stop taking certain medications prior to the exam or adjust their dosages, such as individuals who rely on blood thinners or prescriptions for diabetes, heart disease or high blood pressure.

A colonoscopy usually requires some form of mild sedation to ensure a patient is fully relaxed during the procedure, and pain medication may also be administered intravenously to make the patient more comfortable. During the exam, a doctor uses a lighted tube and video camera, called a colonoscope, to travel up the rectum and the length of the colon with the assistance of air to expand the tissue, according to Mayo Clinic. The doctor views live video images of the inside of the patient's colon on a nearby monitor and is able to pull tissue samples with additional surgical tools if any abnormalities are found.

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