5 questions to ask before scheduling your colonoscopy

It’s OK to feel a little stressed about getting your first colonoscopy. This important step in your preventive care can help spot signs of colorectal illness before it becomes serious.1

Your first question might be, “What is a colonoscopy?” During a colonoscopy, your provider inserts a thin, flexible tube with a small camera into your rectum. This is how they’re able to check the lining of your colon. If your doctor spots any polyps (small growths of cells that could become cancer) on your colon wall, they can easily remove them.1

Asking questions ahead of time can help you mentally and physically prepare before you head to your appointment. Read on to learn 5 questions you may want to ask before scheduling a colonoscopy.

1. Where should I go for my colonoscopy?

Spend some time doing your research to find a quality network facility and provider you’re comfortable with. To help save on costs, get a few quotes from your top choices. You can give each one a call and ask for out-of-pocket estimates for your colonoscopy procedure.

If you’d rather not spend time searching around town, you can ask your primary care provider if they have a recommendation. Or call your insurance company for a list of network facilities to check out. Be sure to ask what you might have to pay based on your plan benefits. 

2. How do I prepare for a colonoscopy?

You may be wondering what a prep for colonoscopy looks like. First things first — your colon needs to be clear. Bowel preparation is one of the most important steps in preparing for a colonoscopy. This prep cleans out your colon so your provider can clearly see any polyps or lesions on its lining. You’ll get directions on what to eat and drink the days leading up to your colonoscopy (be prepared to fast for a full day). You may also want to clear your calendar when you drink your laxative cocktail the day before your procedure. Be sure to follow your colonoscopy prep directions carefully.2

Your doctor may offer different options for this step. A traditional prescription liquid prep might be covered in full, but a prescription or pill prep kits may not be. Be sure to check with your insurance company to make sure you’re not overpaying.

As part of your overall colonoscopy preparation, you may need to stop taking certain medications, like blood thinners. Your doctor at the clinic will go over your list of prescriptions and let you know if you should pause any of them.2

3. Should I try a colonoscopy without sedation?

There are a few reasons you may want to skip sedation, including:

  • Saving time
  • Saving money
  • Avoiding possible side effects of the sedative

While a colonoscopy is less expensive without sedation, a non-sedated colonoscopy can be painful and uncomfortable.

4. What are the possible risks of a colonoscopy?

Complications during a colonoscopy are rare, but can happen. Risks include:1

  • Bleeding
  • Perforated colon
  • A reaction to the sedative (like breathing or heart problems)
  • Abdominal pain

5. How long does it take to recover from a colonoscopy?

After your colonoscopy, your provider will likely keep an eye on you for an hour or 2 before sending you home with your pre-arranged ride. During this time, you may still be a little groggy from the sedation (if you had it), and feel cramping or bloating. You should be able to get back to your normal routine and diet the next day.1

If your provider recommends a colonoscopy, consider scheduling it. This simple 30- to 60-minute procedure could save your life.

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