What happens after the colonoscopy?

Now is the time to take it easy. The most challenging part of the procedure is over and done with. Still, there are a few things to know about as you get back on your feet.

Right after the procedure
Immediately after your colonoscopy you'll still feel sleepy. You'll be taken to a recovery area and given time to rest and regain your senses as the sedative begins to wear off, which can take one or two hours. You may be feeling crampy or gassy as a result of the air that was used during the procedure.

You'll also receive instructions about aftercare. You'll be told when you can eat and drink normally, which is often immediately but may depend on whether or not you did have any polyps removed. You might be asked to refrain from taking certain medications for a short time afterwards. You will also be told when you can expect the results of any biopsies that are done.

After you're home
Since the sedative may linger in your system for 24 hours, you shouldn't drive or operate machinery during that time. Make sure a family member or friend is with you to take you home. Then give yourself permission to lay low for the rest of the day.

Keep drinking lots of liquids to replace what you've lost, but do continue to avoid alcohol. Any leftover cramping or bloating should not be extreme and should disappear within a day.

Serious complications from colonoscopies are very rare, affecting fewer than 1 in 1,000 cases. Red flags to watch for are fever, severe stomach pain, significant amounts of blood in your stool, and weakness or dizziness. Call your doctor or head for an emergency room right away if you have any of these symptoms.

Colonoscopy is a valuable tool to help detect colon problems – it can even help reduce your risk of death from colorectal cancer. That's why it's so important to have regular colonoscopies as recommended by your doctor.

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