Colonoscopy side effects

A colonoscopy is one of those necessary evils in life. While certainly not the most comfortable or inviting procedure, a colonoscopy can detect inflamed tissue(s), abnormal growths, and ulcers. With all types of medical procedures, no matter how invasive, there are risks of side effects. Don’t look at these potential side effects and blame them as the reason for not having a colonoscopy because this procedure is essential to have once you reach a certain age—age 50—to keep tabs on the colorectal region.

Colonoscopy: The Inside Scoop
A colonoscopy is the visual examination of the large intestine, otherwise known as the colon, using a flexible, lighted fiber optic or video endoscope. The question mark shaped intestine begins in the right lower abdomen, moving up and around the abdomen, and ending in the rectum. The scope used, which is inserted through the anus, is quite extraordinary because it can maneuver through the bends and turns of the intestine. The day before the test, it is imperative to clean out the intestine to make the colonoscopy procedure go more smoothly, so a laxative is usually taken the day before the procedure. A colonoscopy is done for a variety of reasons, whether preventative or diagnostic. It is used for colon cancer, polyps, colitis, diverticulitis, diverticulosis, bleeding lesions, abdominal symptoms, abnormal barium x-ray exam, chronic diarrhea, constipation, change in bowel habits, or anemia. Most people should get a colonoscopy at age 50, unless there is a family history of colorectal cancer, a personal history of irritable bowel syndrome, or other risk factors.

Colonoscopy: Side Effects
Not to worry, there are rarely serious complications of a colonoscopy, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be aware of anything that may come your way after the procedure. Keep in mind that a colonoscopy has more advantages than disadvantages, and is an important measure of diagnosis and preventative medicine when it comes to the health of your colon.

Common side effects

A very common side effect that should cause no worries is mild abdominal cramping or pressure; these usually subside within an hour. Bloating and distension are quite common for about an hour after the exam, as well, until the air is expelled; the air will be expelled by passing gas. Discomfort is almost always experienced but will ease in an hour or two following the procedure. Don’t be alarmed by a little bit of blood appearing in your first stool after the colonoscopy because this is a completely normal occurrence. On the other hand, keep your eye on any bleeding that occurs after the first bowel movement because this can be a serious thing if not treated promptly; it could mean that the colonoscopy created a problem.

Rare side effects
Atypically, excessive bleeding can possibly occur if a large polyp (which is a fleshy tumor that is often a precursor to colon cancer) is removed during a colonoscopy. Even rarer is a tear in the lining of the colon. These two complications may require hospitalization or surgery to be corrected. If any dizziness or abnormal weakness is experienced, call your doctor immediately. It is also quite possible that certain colon conditions can be further aggravated by the invasion of the endoscope or fiberoptic, such as irritable bowel syndrome.

Indirect side effects

Before the procedure, mild sedation is given, and this may have ill effects on some people, like nausea or stomach upset. The laxative taken the day before the colonoscopy that cleans the waste from the colon may have adverse side effects for some people, such as more diarrhea than should be normal with a laxative.

Last updated on Nov 19th, 2010 and filed under Medical Treatment. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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