Is it ok to smoke before a colonoscopy?

Smoking is a known risk factor for colon cancer.

Some doctors may advise you to avoid smoking before a colonoscopy, as some studies have suggested it may increase the risk of bleeding or infection.

However, it is difficult to tell if smoking will have any effect on the results of your procedure. Many people who smoke before a colonoscopy have no symptoms or only mild symptoms.

If you smoke, your doctor may advise you to stop before the colonoscopy.

If you have a history of smoking, your doctor may ask you to stop smoking before your procedure. Your doctor will also discuss how to stop smoking if you are uncertain about whether it is safe to do so.

You should not stop smoking if you have any risk factors for colon cancer. This includes family history, personal history, or the presence of polyps.

If you smoke, your doctor may ask you to use an alternative method to help you stop smoking, such as nicotine patches or gum.

In some cases, your doctor may advise you to stop smoking completely.

If you smoke, you should discuss the following with your doctor:

  • Whether you should stop smoking completely.
  • Whether you should stop smoking before a colonoscopy.
  • Whether you should stop smoking a few days before a colonoscopy.

There are several different types of colonoscopy. Your doctor can tell you more about which type you will be having.

What happens during a colonoscopy?

A colonoscopy is a procedure that allows your doctor to view your entire colon.

Your doctor will use a colonoscope, which is a thin tube with a light and a camera on the end. The colonoscope goes through your anus and up to the beginning of your colon.

The colonoscope will then be passed through your colon and out the other end. This will allow your doctor to view any abnormalities, like polyps or cancer, that may be present.

After the colonoscopy has been completed, your doctor will remove the colonoscope.

What are the benefits of a colonoscopy?

A colonoscopy is a safe, simple procedure that allows your doctor to check for any abnormalities in your colon.

Your doctor may recommend a colonoscopy if you have:

  • Frequent or persistent diarrhea or constipation.
  • Rectal bleeding.
  • Rectal pain.
  • Abdominal pain.
  • A change in bowel habits.
  • A change in your diet.
  • Fecal matter is found in your stool.

In some cases, your doctor may recommend a colonoscopy during an unrelated procedure.

How do I prepare for a colonoscopy?

You will be given a sedative that will help you relax and fall asleep during the procedure. This is usually a short-acting medication that you can take as needed.

Your doctor will also give you instructions about what to do if you have any of the following:

  • Bleeding.
  • Blood in your stool.
  • An erection or ejaculation.
  • Fever.
  • Swelling or pain in your abdomen.
  • Foul-smelling stool.
  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Dizziness.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Yellowing of your skin or eyes.

You should also be prepared to take your usual medications. If you have allergies to aspirin, your doctor may advise you to stop taking it before the procedure.

Your doctor may also advise you to stop taking certain medications, such as blood thinners, a few days before your procedure.

You may also need to take stool softeners or laxatives before your procedure to help your bowels move and empty.

When do you need to stop eating and drinking?

You will most likely be asked to stop drinking and eating for the entire day prior to your procedure. You will also need to stop smoking for several days before your procedure.

Your doctor may also ask you to stop taking certain medications. These include:

  • Birth control pills.
  • Antibiotics.
  • Blood thinners.
  • Antihistamines.
  • Steroids.
  • Anti-seizure drugs.
  • Oral contraceptives.
  • Antidepressants.

Your doctor may advise you to take a stool softener or laxative before your procedure.

Your doctor will also need to know if you drink any alcohol during the week before your procedure.

What happens during the procedure?

Your doctor will give you medication to help you relax and fall asleep during the procedure.

You may feel a slight pressure and tug on the colonoscope when it is passed through your anus to the beginning of your colon.

These sensations will pass as the colonoscope is passed through your colon.

The colonoscopy itself is relatively short, usually taking between 30 and 60 minutes.

If you have any of the following, your doctor might allow you to have a bowel movement during the procedure:

  • It has been a long time since your last bowel movement.
  • You have severe pain in your abdomen.
  • You have blood in your stool.
  • You have a fever or are dehydrated.

Your doctor might also ask you to have a stool sample taken during the procedure.

What happens after a colonoscopy?

After your colonoscopy, you may be able to go home the same day.

If you received sedation, you should be able to drive yourself home. If you have a sedative in your bloodstream, you will be instructed to wait for a few hours or until you feel sleepy.

Your doctor might want to do a follow-up colonoscopy in a few weeks to check for any abnormalities.

You will also need to call your doctor if you have any of the following:

  • A blood clot in your colon.
  • Hemorrhage.
  • A tumor or polyp.
  • An obstruction.
  • An abscess.

If you have any of the following, you may need to be admitted to the hospital:

  • A bleeding or clotting problem.
  • A fever.
  • A bowel blockage.
  • A severe headache.
  • Problems with urination.
  • A severe allergic reaction.

Key takeaway

A colonoscopy is a simple procedure that allows your doctor to check for any irregularities in your colon.

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