Does a colonoscopy hurt?
It is quite normal to freak out when you hear about an invasive medical examination which has to do with your body. While these exams are mostly for diagnostic and sometimes therapeutic purposes, one would still wonder what the whole process feels like. Does it hurt? What side effects do I expect? And a whole myriad of questions that plague the mind. Let’s start off with what colonoscopy is all about.
Colonoscopy is an endoscopic exam used to detect changes or abnormalities in the colon (usually the large intestine) and rectum.
WHY DO A COLONOSCOPY?
A whole lot of conditions may arise which would require a colonoscopy test to be carried out. They include:
(I) Screening for colon cancer: For people who are in their fifties and above, a common indication is colon cancer. Within this age range, you are at an average risk of developing colon cancer. Other risk factors include sex (frequently occur in males), history of inflammatory bowel disease, family history of colon cancer, smoking, weight etc.
(II) To investigate intestinal signs and symptoms: In cases of abdominal pain, changes in bowel habits, rectal bleeding, chronic diarrhea etc. A colonoscopy helps to explore the possible cause of these problems.
(III) To look for polyps: People who have a history of polyps may have to follow through with colonoscopy to remove any additional polyps. Especially if the polyps were large and many or if any of them shoed dysplasia. This will reduce the risk of developing colon cancer. This is the major reason of discussing on this topic “Does a colonoscopy hurt?”.
The question to whether it hurts narrows down to the procedures followed in carrying out the exam.
What Do You Expect When Scheduled For A Colonoscopy?
Before the examination, there are some instructions given to aid proper diagnosis. This will include diet modification and bowel prep medication. Diet modifications entail staying away from high fiber diet like beans, meat, fatty foods etc. You will be required stay off solid foods and deal with only clear liquids and juices. The medications are usually laxatives which you will be required to swallow or powder that you will dissolve in clear water. This is done to clear your bowels of stool and enable the doctor see the linings of colon properly. This basic examination will attempt to answer the question “Does a colonoscopy hurt” .
Like it was stated earlier, this procedure is invasive; this means that some instrument will have to be inserted into your body. Since the rectum and large intestine are the areas of interest, the colonoscope is inserted into the anal canal.
The colonoscope is a flexible 60cm tube. It can be bent in any direction so that it can be maneuvered through the colon. At the tip of this tube is a camera, irrigation channel, air/water nozzle for suctioning fluid, biopsy channel for inserting biopsy forceps or snares and light for illumination. The camera sends a real time video to the computer screen that allows visualization of the colon.
What is The Procedure For Colonoscopy?
To commence the exam; the patient will be required to undress and wear a clinical gown. The patient then lies on the side usually on an exam table or bed with the knees drawn up. The colonoscope is inserted and air (CO2) is introduced into the colon.
This gives a better view of the colon lining. At this point it is possible to feel cramping at the abdominal region and a need for bowel movement. With the instrument, the doctor is able to take samples to be tested or remove polyps and other abnormal tissues masses.
Carrying out this examination without a sedative would cause a little pain that is why before the procedure, a sedative together with an intravenous pain medication is administered to minimize the discomfort. Removal of polyps however is not painful as they do not have nerve in their linings.
After the exam, the sedative may not wear off immediately; it could cause a little drowsiness but will totally wear off after 24 hours. Passing gas frequently and feeling bloated are also a normal experience as you will need to release gas that was initially pumped into your colon. You may also notice some blood in your feces but there is no need to worry. Instances where this persists, it is advisable to consult your doctor.
Does A Colonoscopy Hurt
The degree of pain felt varies depending on the patient, patient who have lower body mass index, had longer insertion time and experienced difficulty in insertion during the procedure are seen to feel more discomfort. On the average, it is said colonoscopy is more difficult in women especially those who have undergone a hysterectomy and thus requires more skill in carrying out the procedure. Sedation reduces the discomfort.
However, some patients who have undergone colonoscopy without sedation report little or no discomfort during the examination. Most complaints center around cramping or bloating which is as a result of the air that was used to inflate the colon. So there is no reason to be afraid of colonoscopy.