What Should Patients Know About Eating After a Colonoscopy?

Patients are usually able to resume their regular diets immediately after a colonoscopy, according to WebMD. However, the doctor may offer dietary recommendations if he removed a polyp during the procedure, states Mayo Clinic. As the procedure requires emptying the colon, patients typically find that they do not have any bowel movements until one to three days following the colonoscopy, notes Cleveland Clinic. This allows the colon time to fill back up.

Although patients can eat normally after a colonoscopy, they must follow a special diet to empty out their colons the day before the test, describes Mayo Clinic. Typically, patients must refrain from eating solid foods the entire day and must not consume any foods or beverages after midnight. Beverages allowed before midnight consist of clear liquids, such as water and tea or coffee without any milk or cream added. It is best not to drink any red beverages, which the doctor may mistake for blood during the procedure. Additionally, the doctor may ask the patient to take a laxative, use an enema or make adjustments in medications to assist in emptying the colon.

A patient must arrange for someone to take him home after a colonoscopy because the effects of the sedative may linger for up to a day, advises Mayo Clinic. It is common to notice small amounts of blood when having the first bowel movement following the test, but patients should contact their doctors if they notice blood clots, continued bleeding, a fever or abdominal pain.