Developing abdominal discomfort, diarrhea, or other gastrointestinal issues can be a sign that you have a colon problem or other medical condition. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you might need to receive a colonoscopy to help make a diagnosis. At Bay Area Gastroenterology Associates in Trinity, FL, we can use this exam to diagnose the cause of your digestive problems in order to restore you to full health as soon as possible.
What Can a Colonoscopy Diagnose?
A colonoscopy can diagnose a number of different health conditions and concerns. During your colonoscopy, one of our specialist gastroenterologists (a doctor who specializes in conditions that affect the gastrointestinal tract) will use specialized techniques to look at the inside of your colon. This process will allow us to diagnose a broad range of medical issues that may affect your gastrointestinal system or your general health.
Colon cancer is an illness that develops in the large intestine. According to the American Cancer Society, more than 100,000 people in the United States will probably be diagnosed with this health condition in 2021. Many people who have this condition will not experience any symptoms during the early stages of their illnesses.
During this exam, we can screen for colon cancer that hasn’t begun to spread. If this health problem is diagnosed at an early stage, it has a high five-year relative survival rate. Receiving this comfortable exam is an easy way to increase your chance of diagnosing this condition at a more treatable stage.
We can also look for polyps during this exam. Polyps are small growths that can appear in your colon. Over time, these growths can cause you to develop colon cancer or other problems. If we find a polyp, we may remove this growth from your colon. Since polyps can take up to 15 years to turn into cancer, receiving regular examinations can prevent pre-cancerous growths from causing you to experience more significant health issues.
Under some circumstances, we may eliminate a small portion of your polyp. We can diagnose cancer and other problems by sending this material to a laboratory where it can be biopsied.
We can also use this exam to look for other health problems that can lead to digestive issues. For example, diverticulosis is an illness that can cause you to feel bloated, become constipated, and experience other uncomfortable problems. We can use this exam to diagnose this health issue and begin the process of treating your symptoms.
Similarly, this exam can diagnose inflammatory bowel disease that can cause you to develop scars in your colon and nutritional issues. This type of disease may also raise your chance of experiencing colon cancer. If we diagnose inflammatory bowel disease during your exam, we can use gentle treatments to decrease your risk of experiencing additional colon damage and other health problems.
When Should I Receive This Exam?
During your initial visit to our office in Trinity, we will discuss your family history and talk about any digestive problems that you have. For example, you should let us know if you are experiencing bloating issues or have discomfort after you eat. This information will help us determine if you are a good candidate for this exam.
Screening for Illnesses
Your genetic background will impact your risk of developing colon issues during your lifetime. If any of your relatives developed colon cancer or other colon problems, we may advise you to use this technique to screen for these illnesses. In addition, you might need to receive this exam if you have been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease or other digestive conditions.
Your chance of experiencing colon problems will increase as you become older. As a result, we may advise you to start getting these exams when you turn 50. After you reach this age, you might be required to receive a new screening once every decade.
Diagnosing Your Symptoms
If you are experiencing digestive issues are associated with colon cancer or other health problems, you might be advised to get this exam. For example, we may instruct you to receive this exam if you are frequently constipated, have blood in your stool, or have noticed other changes in your bowel movements.
How Should I Get Ready for This Exam?
Since we will need to carefully examine the inside of your colon, we will ask you to change your diet and use other techniques to empty out your colon.
Changing Your Diet
Although we will give you customized preparation instructions, you should be prepared to refrain from eating certain foods for a brief time. You might have to stop consuming seeds and nuts for about three days and avoid eating solid meals for about 24 hours. During this time, you might decide to consume tea, water, and other clear beverages. You might have to stop drinking these liquids at midnight.
Using Laxatives and Enemas
In addition to adjusting your diet, you will probably need to use laxatives to clean your colon. For example, we may advise you to take an oral laxative on the evening before your exam. Further, we may instruct you to use an enema kit to clean out the lower portion of your colon.
Adjusting Your Medications
Some medications or supplements can affect your reaction to this exam. If you use medications to address heart issues, high blood pressure, or other health conditions, you might be required to stop consuming these substances for a while. Alternatively, we may tell you to temporarily change your dosage of blood-thinning medications and other substances.
What Will Happen During My Exam?
Since we can use medications and other gentle techniques to help you relax during your exam, you should not feel embarrassed or worried when you receive your initial colonoscopy.
Beginning Your Exam
We will probably begin your exam by asking you to change into a comfortable gown. At this point, we may provide you with an oral sedative or intravenous medication that will help you feel at ease during the next stage of your appointment. You will not be unconscious but you will feel relaxed.
Diagnosing Medical Conditions
After you receive your sedating medication, we will place a small scope into your colon. This scope will allow us to temporarily increase the size of your colon by putting carbon dioxide or air into this location.
As we move our scope, we will use a very small camera to transmit images of your colon to a monitor. As we study these images, we will look for polyps and other abnormalities. Sometimes, we will use medical instruments to eliminate polyps or take small samples of your tissues.
Completing Your Exam
Your exam will usually last for about 30 minutes to one hour. Once we have thoroughly examined your colon, we will remove our scope and monitor your response to this process. As you recover, you will rest in a comfortable room. Once enough time has passed, we will usually instruct you to complete the remainder of your recovery period at home.
If we gave you sedating medication at the beginning of your appointment, you will not be able to drive a vehicle. As a result, you should have a close relative or friend transport you back to your home.
Will I Need To Stay Home From Work After I Receive This Exam?
If you received a sedative before your exam, we will probably instruct you to spend 24 hours resting at your home. During this time, you shouldn’t go to work or perform strenuous activities.
Will I Receive Additional Exams or Other Treatments After My Appointment Is Finished?
If the results of your exam are normal, we may instruct you to receive another colonoscopy in about ten years. If we see polyps or other issues during your exam, we may advise you to attend more frequent follow-up appointments to make sure that a more serious problem is not developing. For example, you might be required to get another exam in the next one to five years.
If we diagnose inflammatory bowel diseases during your exam, we may instruct you to change your diet. For example, if we diagnose you with diverticulosis, you might need to eat foods that contain high amounts of fiber.
Schedule a Consultation
If you are over the age of 50 or have a family history of colon issues, you might need to receive a colonoscopy. We can use this exam to screen for colon cancer and diagnose other medical conditions that can cause you to experience digestive problems. Whether you have any current health concerns or just want to be extra careful with your health, don’t hesitate to contact us at Bay Area Gastroenterology Associates in Trinity, FL.