A colonoscopy, although it is something that most people fear, is one of the best ways to prevent colon cancer. You could save your life by enduring a few days of discomfort.
You don’t have to worry about pain during the procedure.
What happens in a colonoscopy
Colonoscopies can be performed by gastroenterologists who are experts in issues and conditions relating to the digestive system.
Before the procedure begins, you will lie on your side on a table. This can be done in either a private room at an emergency medical center or a gastroenterologist’s office. Your doctor or nurse will give you medication via an intravenous line to make you sleepy.
After sedating you, the doctor will insert a thin, flexible tube into your rectum. The doctor will attach the line with a small light and camera to allow him to view any abnormalities (e.g., polyps or ulcers) throughout your colon (sizeable intestinal tract).
A doctor will remove any polyps found with a looped, flexible wire.
According to the Mayo Clinic, removing suspicious polyps can reduce your chance of developing colon cancer by up to 40%.
Feel the tube in your body?
The good news? You’ll most likely be wholly sedated throughout the procedure. The procedure is over when you wake up. Many people claim that they don’t remember ever having a colonoscopy.
You may be unable to have sedation in countries other than the United States. Talk to your doctor about what sedation options are available.
Which sedation drugs will the doctor prescribe?
There are many sedatives available for colonoscopy. They range from mild to severe sedation to general anesthesia. Before the procedure, many doctors will prescribe one of these sedatives:
ResearchTrusted source has shown that doctors can use different dosages and medications depending on age, gender, race, or drug history.
Ask your doctor if you have any questions about the sedatives used during your colonoscopy.
Are side effects of sedatives possible?
Side effects can occur with any drug. Talk to your doctor to learn more about the side effects and risks of the medication you will be receiving.
After being sedated, some people might feel nauseated or have headaches.
A colonoscopy can make people feel tired and sleepy. Because you will be too tired to drive, someone will have to go you home.
Doctors advise that you refrain from driving or using machinery for 24 hours following a colonoscopy.
What happens to pain afterward?
After a colonoscopy, a few people may feel mild abdominal cramping similar to gas pains. It may last up to a day.
This is possible because the doctor may have used some air to open the colon for a better view. You might feel bloated or gassy as the air passes through your colon.
Your doctor might perform a biopsy if they find a suspicious tissue area. A biopsy performed during a colonoscopy can cause mild discomfort and bleeding.
The Cleveland Clinic doctors say that bleeding risks are very low at less than 1%. Talk to your doctor immediately if you feel pain, swelling, bleeding, or your abdomen feels heavy and stiff.
Talk to your doctor if passing gas or going to the toilet after a colonoscopy is difficult.
Other than sedatives, there are other pain prevention options.
People may not want to be given sedatives or opioid medication, particularly if they are recovering from an addiction. Here are some options if you don’t wish to take pain medication during a colonoscopy.
- Have an IV placed to ensure you are comfortable during the procedure. This will allow medical personnel to start non-narcotic pain relief medication, if necessary, quickly.
- Request a noninvasive screening like Cologuard.
- To detect abnormalities, check with your insurance company.
- Discuss with your doctor other ways to see and screen for colorectal cancers.
The bottom line
Most patients are given a sedative before a colonoscopy. This means that the procedure isn’t painful. The sedative causes you to feel so tired that you don’t remember or feel anything about the process.
You may not be able to get sedation for a colonoscopy in the United States. Talk to your doctor to ensure you are fully informed about your options.
There is a possibility that you will feel gas-like cramping if your doctor inserts air into your bowel.
You may feel mild discomfort the day after your doctor performs a biopsy. Talk to your doctor if you feel any pain.