Published July 31, 2023
If you have heard people complaining about colonoscopies and dreading another, it’s not about the procedure itself. Most likely they are complaining about the preparation on the day before the colonoscopy. You must clean out your colon prior to the test, and that can be uncomfortable. Pick up a package of medicated wipes to get you through the day. It’s not as bad as some people make it out to be. Now the big question: are colonoscopies painful?
Purposes of a Colonoscopy
A colonoscopy is a screening tool to help diagnose and treat colon cancer in its earliest stages.
During a colonoscopy your gastroenterologist will:
- Look for polyps
- Find reasons for any unusual symptoms
- Detect colon cancer
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) ranks colon cancer as the third leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States.
The American Cancer Society recommends adults with average risk factors begin having a colonoscopy starting at age 45. Those with a higher risk should begin earlier on the advice of their gastroenterologist. Most adults are instructed to come back every 5 years for another test if nothing consequential is found.
If polyps are found, GI Solutions can remove them during the procedure. They are tested later for any signs of cancer.
What happens during a colonoscopy may seem embarrassing to some people, but you don’t remember or feel anything while it’s happening. Most patients wake up afterward saying, “Is it over? What happened?”
You are sedated prior to beginning the procedure, so you are comfortable and don’t even realize it’s going on.
The process begins with a very thin tube inserted into the rectum with a light and camera attached so your physician can clearly see any polyps or other abnormalities. They can remove them by inserting other instruments through the tube.
The entire process takes approximately 30 to 60 minutes.
After the Test
Some people experience mild discomfort and gas for a short time after the procedure. This can be due to the air the doctor may insert to open the area for a better view.
If you have any serious pain or discomfort once you are home, contact the number on your post-operative instructions.
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