Everything You Need To Know About Colonoscopies

Health & Medical Blog

A colonoscopy is a procedure that enables doctors to examine the inside of your colon and rectum. While this procedure may be recommended if you are experiencing abdominal pain, bloody stools, or changes in bowel habits, it is also a necessary screening for everyone as they age. In addition, colonoscopies are important to your overall health. Here's what you need to know.

Why Is a Colonoscopy Important?

A colonoscopy helps doctors identify and diagnose problems with your colon and rectum, including:

  • Polyps
  • Colitis
  • Ulcers
  • Inflammation
  • Tumors

It's also used to detect early stages of colorectal cancer, which means it can help prevent more serious health issues from developing by finding any abnormalities before they become life-threatening. It is estimated that up to half of the "patients getting [a] colonoscopy will have precancerous polyps," which means colonoscopies can help save lives.

Do You Have to Get a Colonoscopy?

If polyps are discovered during your colonoscopy, they are removed and biopsied in a lab. The polyps could be benign or precancerous, but their removal eliminates the chance they could develop into colon or rectal cancer. So, while you do not have to get a colonoscopy, it is in your best interest to do so.

The Centers for Disease Control state that you should have your first colonoscopy at 45 and additional colonoscopies at regular intervals thereafter, as recommended by your doctor.

What Can You Expect During a Colonoscopy?

Before a colonoscopy begins, you will need to fast and drink an approved cleansing liquid the day before the procedure. During the colonoscopy, you will most likely receive sedation so you don't feel anything. The doctor will insert a thin tube with a camera on one end to see the inside of your entire large intestine. The procedure is fairly quick, and you will likely need someone to drive you home due to the effects of the anesthesia.

The procedure is not painful, but some patients report experiencing mild cramping due to irritation from the cleansers used prior to the procedure.

A colonoscopy is an important tool in helping doctors detect potential issues before they become colorectal cancer. While no one likes having tests done on them, it's important to remember just how much they can help protect your health with a colonoscopy. If you have concerns about whether or not you should schedule a colonoscopy, talk to your doctor about the options for you based on your specific circumstances.


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