If you are between 45 and 70 years old, you have probably heard your doctor suggest that you should have a colonoscopy.  A colonoscopy is an internal examination of the colon, to check whether you have conditions that might lead to colorectal cancer. For many people, this sounds like a nightmare. They are afraid that the process is going to be painful and embarrassing, or it could lead complications. However, nothing could be farther from the truth.   A Colonoscopy is a good thing, and an important test to keep you healthy.  Below are some of the common questions and concerns about a colonoscopy to get you ready for your first screening without as much to worry about.

What is the purpose of a Colonoscopy and is it a one-time thing?

Understanding why you need a colonoscopy is important for you to feel comfortable with the procedure.   As the word states, colonoscopy is a “scope of the colon.” It involves screening the colon for colon cancer and other conditions or diseases that affect the colon. They are important because early detection of colorectal cancer ensures that the treatment is done in time to allow a patient to have a normal lifespan.

There is a need for regular screening of the colon to ensure that any problem is detected early enough for ease of treatment. Therefore, it is not and should not be a one-time procedure. It should be done as regular as your doctor recommends.

Who should have a colonoscopy and when?

Generally, if you are over 50 years old, you should consider having your first colonoscopy to determine the health status of your colon. If there is a history of colorectal cancer in your immediate family, a colonoscopy is extremely essential and you may be screened before 50 years old.

If you have problems such as chronic constipation, bleeding, diarrhea, and passing out mucus and other tissue in your stool, a colonoscopy may be imperative to screen the colon for diseases such as Crohn’s, diverticular disease and irritable bowel syndrome.

After the age of 75, most people are advised not to have a colonoscopy.

Is a Colonoscopy painful?

Some people think that the process is going to be painful. However, the truth is that you won’t even know how it feels to have the colonoscope moving inside your bowel. You will be given a IV sedative to help you relax so the procedure is generally painless.  Some discomfort may exist in the form of cramping in your lower stomach.

How long does a colonoscopy take?

People are also concerned about the time colonoscopy will take. Although the bowel prep may take one day, the procedure itself does not take long. A colonoscopy typically takes 20 to 60 minutes. However, you will need 2 to 3 hours for recovery. Thus, you will need to take the rest of the day off from work on the procedure day.  Due to sedation, you will need someone to drive you home.

Do you have additional questions about a colonoscopy?  Our doctors are always available to answer your questions through our patient portal.  Or contact us to schedule an appointment.