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You might not walk into a doctor's clinic and ask for a colonoscopy to be done but if you reach a gastroenterologist's clinic with bowel problems there are fair chances that he might suggest you go for one if your symptoms or complaints are suspicious. Bowel complaints that can make your gastroenterologist worried are blood in stool, inability to empty the bowel, abdominal discomfort after bowel movements. These signs could make the doctor suspect something wrong with your colon and rectal area. A colonoscopy is done to check for bowel or rectal cancers.
Most people are scared of this diagnostic procedure and think it is painful. But it is an effective diagnostic tool which you shouldn't ignore if suggested by your doctor. In fact, it is better to get checked and treated (in case any polyps are found in the area) so you don't have to regret later. With all cancers they say the sooner it is detected the better. So, if you are asked to go for a colonoscopy here are a few things that you need to keep in mind.
A bowel clearing procedure is necessary
It is necessary to clean the contents of the colon before going for a colonoscopy. As a clean colon will help the doctor get a better view of the colon and the rectum. A laxative is given prior to help one clean the bowel. However, the preparations can start even a week before where a low fibre diet is suggested to ensure that one passes stools easily. Remember, you should not go on a high fibre diet as that can increase your chances of constipation. Have the right amount of fibre in your diet as suggested by your doctor or dietician as there are quite a few disadvantages of high fibre diets too.
You might have to reschedule your plans on the day you get a colonoscopy done
A colonoscopy takes around 30 minutes to get done. However, to be on the safer side take a day off from work before you book an appointment. Sedatives are given before the procedure to help one relax and sleep. These medications take time to show their effect. After the procedure, you will be asked to avoid driving or do any heavy-duty work. You might also have to stay at home till the effect of the sedatives wears off.
You may or may not feel pain during the process
Since sedatives are given during the procedure one might not feel any pain during the diagnosis. However, there are people who complain about the pain during a colonoscopy. But after the process is over, there could be slight discomfort or pain in the anal area which subsides within a few hours or a day. This discomfort is due to the air that is trapped in while the scope is inserted inside.
It acts as a prevention tool
If your doctor detects any polyps during the colonoscopy it is either removed (if it is small) or a biopsy is taken (in case of large polyps) to check for cancerous growth. If the results come clean you will have to follow the procedure after 10 years. However, if the results are unfavourable you might have to go for further tests to determine the health of your colon.
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