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How to Prepare for a Colonoscopy

At a certain age, people become susceptible to colorectal diseases, which are caused by abnormalities of the colon or the rectal area. Colonoscopy is a procedure used to detect these changes or abnormalities in the large intestine (colon) and rectum. It is a preventive diagnostic technique done to diagnose and treat diseases of the rectum and colon. 

Preparation:

The procedure depends on the preparation of the person who is undergoing it. Before the colonoscopy, the patient needs to prepare thoroughly by cleansing their colon and assuring that it does not have any sort of fecal material that is coating or sticking onto the surface of the colon. 

 

Ideally, a fiber-rich diet and being on an empty stomach at certain hours is recommended to prepare before the procedure. Once the person stops eating, they are advised to drink liquids that have a cleansing type of quality. This is necessary because if the colonoscopy is done with a colon that is unclean, the examiner cannot visualize and the procedure is ruined. Hence, rigid prep work is recommended. 

Some people do not feel anything after the prep work but some people feel that after following the prep routine their stomach and intestines are not settling well or they are experiencing interrupted bowel movements. Hence, it is important to educate patients to help their guts return to the normal state and make the colonoscopy procedure easier and less harsh on their bodies.

Procedure:

The colonoscope is a long, flexible tube with a camera in the front, a source of light at its tip and tweezers attached in the front. Adjacent to the tweezer is a cold cautery which is a small tube that sprays hydrogen peroxide on the surface to numb the area and cut down the blood supply. The colonoscope is inserted through the rectum and slowly advanced to the other end of the large intestine.

The patient is given general anesthesia because the procedure can not be performed with the local or spinal type of anesthesia. Once the entire body goes into the anesthetic effect, cold cautery is used to probe inside. They go through the inner canal, into the rectum and continue to visualize the rectum, sigmoid colon, descending colon, transverse colon and ascending colon till the opening of the small intestine into the large intestine. This is called the ileocecal valve. 

When an abnormal, uneven growth or polyp is noticed through this instrument in the region, the tweezer is used to clamp it and pluck it out from the surface. An expert gastroenterologist can perform a complete colonoscopy in less than 20 or a maximum of 30 minutes. 

There are normal growth tissues which are benign, and there are abnormal growth tissues which are cancerous. It is necessary to recognize an abnormal growth or polyp and remove it as a preventive measure because if anything that is growing inside the gut or any part of the body is left for too long, it can become life-threatening. It is advised to remove the polyp as a precaution whether it is normal or abnormal so that it does not turn into something cancerous.

Like colonoscopy, some people come out of Anesthesia easily, while some people struggle with slight adjustment issues like headaches, spaciness and emotional issues like anxiety or depression. 

Ayurveda offers the following remedies to overcome the influence of anesthesia. 

  1. Ashwagandha
    The most important thing is to prepare yourself well before the colonoscopy. Ayurveda recommends ‘Ashwagandha’ to calm down the nervous system. Ashwagandha is an herb that adapts the body to the situation that it is going through, it may be in the nervous system, endocrine system, or the gut. It is a health-promoting supplement and does not  interfere with anything that is given during the colonoscopy. 

Ashwagandha can be taken in the form of a capsule or powder. It is recommended to take it at least one week before the procedure and not recommended to take it on the day of the procedure. After the procedure, one can continue to take it for another five days to help in the recovery from anesthesia quickly. 

  1. Hydration

Keeping the body hydrated by consuming plenty of fluids is important so that the body can expel any remnants of the chemicals and come out of the influence of anesthesia quickly. 

Some people feel gassy and bloated after the procedure because the mucous membrane in the gut becomes dry or thinned out after colonoscopy, so it is prone to irritation. To avoid this, one needs hydration and lubrication in equal amounts post-procedure.

  1. Oils

Natural oils like ghee added in food and diet or coconut oil mixed with flax or almond milk must be consumed. 

  1. Spices

Spices like ginger, black pepper and turmeric are highly recommended post-procedure. Sometimes, due to the procedure, the gut naturally becomes aggravated so the anti-inflammatory property of ginger can help the gut. Ginger tea or ginger added in cooking food or soup is recommended. 

The three spices - ginger, black pepper, and turmeric need to be consumed in the first few meals for at least five days after the procedure, preferably in liquid form to help the body remain hydrated. They can be used in Thai curry soup or chicken curry soup with vegetables in it to strengthen and lubricate the gut with these natural oils. 

  1. Seeds

Seeds like Hemp seeds, Pumpkin seeds, Chia seeds and seeds that do not have a harsh shell on them could help in reducing gas and bloating that happens after the procedure. Chia pudding is the best thing to take after the procedure to lubricate the gut. 

Prevention:

Prevention is the mantra of Ayurveda. An ayurvedic formula known as Triphalais a gut-health promoting combination. It consists of three fruits - Terminalia chebula, Terminalia belerica, and Emblica Officinalis. These three fruits are considered to be the best remedy to help the gut and keep the bowel movement regular. 

When the bowel movement is regular, there is no stress on the colon, which minimizes the chances of getting polyps inside the colon. However, it is advised to consult a physician before consuming the formula during the procedure. 

If the patient has anal problems like hemorrhoids or fissure, it can flare up in post-operation. Bleeding and puncture of the colon are rare but possible complications of colonoscopy. If bleeding occurs, Sitz bath is recommended to stop the bleeding and ease the pain. To make a sitz bath, fill up a bathtub with warm to hot water, add salt or oils in it to soften. When you sit inside, the hot water and the oil will ease the tissues that are tensed after the procedure to relax and the bleeding will gradually stop.

When prepared well before the exam, colonoscopy is a simple procedure that helps to prevent life-threatening risks. 

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