Goodbye Fiction, Hello Fact: Busting Myths About Colonoscopies

Colonoscopies are not a thing most people want to talk about. You may consider your need for this test private, and there's a good chance your friends and relatives feel the same way! Perhaps this refusal to talk about colonoscopies is why there are so many myths and misconceptions floating around about the procedure. Whether you want to talk about it or not, you can read about those myths — and discover the actual facts about colonoscopies — in the article below.

Myth: You'll be awake during the procedure.

You've probably heard that you will not be under general anesthesia for a colonoscopy. This is true. But that doesn't exactly mean that you will be awake, either. Most colonoscopies are performed under that is known as IV sedative. A strong sedative will be given to you via a needle in your arm. You're likely to just doze off, sleep through the procedure, and wake up when it is over. You can opt to remain completely awake and without sedation during your colonoscopy if you want, but most patients prefer the sedative.

Myth: Colonoscopies are dangerous.

Reading the list of possible complications and side effects related to colonoscopies can make you nervous. There is a risk of colon damage or irritation, but that risk is very, very low and not something most people should worry about. The risk of developing colon cancer is much higher, which is why you should get a colonoscopy

Myth: Preparing for a colonoscopy is painful.

Maybe you're imagining spending all day on the toilet with stomach cramps on the day before your colonoscopy. Luckily, it's not nearly as bad as you are thinking. You will have to drink a laxative substance and empty your bowels prior to the colonoscopy, but while this is annoying, it should not be painful. There are even newer laxative preparations that you can drink in a smaller volume, and that leads to gentler colon cleansing. 

Myth: You don't really need a colonoscopy until you are old. 

It is true that your doctor is more likely to find colon polyps as you age. However, you should not put off colonoscopies until you're in your 70s or 80s. The American Cancer Society recommends that everyone begin colon cancer screening at age 45 for the best risk reduction. 

Hopefully, this article has dispelled a few myths and introduced some important facts about colonoscopies. Take a deep breath and relax; you're doing a good thing for your health.