Bowel prep is the process of cleaning out your colon before the colonoscopy. This process usually starts the day before your colonoscopy. In order for your colonoscopy to be the highest quality, you want your physician to have a good view of all of your colon lining. An excellent bowel prep allows an excellent colonoscopy. Following the instructions to the prep is vital for this goal.
You should avoid fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, and beans for a few days before the colonoscopy because these food groups are difficult to clear out of the colon. You are always on a clear liquid diet ALL DAY on the day before the colonoscopy. Any bowel prep will cause you to have multiple loose bowel movements, which can be quite dehydrating, therefore drinking large amounts of clear liquids on the bowel prep day will help you feel better and provide a better bowel cleansing. Bowel preps are usually given in a split dose, meaning you drink the first half of the preparation the evening before the colonoscopy and the second half of the prep is taken 6 hours before your colonoscopy.
It is rare to have to drink large volume of awful tasting prep. Most physicians use the newer preps that are a smaller amount, but you must still drink large volume of clear liquids of your choice, i.e. juice, water, or sports drinks. This new approach of bowel cleansing (splitting the dose and lower volume of actual prep) is a big improvement over past preps.
Think of the bowel prep as the soap you use to clean your car. Without plenty of water that soap is not going to clean your car adequately. Large amounts of clear liquids are essential to any bowel prep.
Preps do not taste great. However, low volume preps are only 5oz or 8oz, which is tolerable even if the taste is bad. Additionally, you can add a flavor enhancer to the prep like Mio.
It is important that you do. Take a break, pace yourself, drink hot tea, and suck on a peppermint. This problem is not as common as it used to be since the preps are lower in volume. Drinking the clear liquids of your choice has made it easier to drink all of the necessary liquids. We want to stress that the prep is vital to a high quality colonoscopy. A colon with residual stool left behind increases the chance that a precancerous polyp is missed at the time of the colonoscopy.
Some people do throw up during their prep; this is when you should take a break (an hour or more). Drink hot tea, suck on a peppermint, or just rest. Make every attempt to drink all of the prep, AND all of the recommended amount of clear liquids.