How to Deal with Pain and Discomfort After Colonoscopy

Standard colonoscopy refers to the visual inspection of the large intestine and rectum with the help of a flexible video camera. Though the procedure is quite safe, about 5-10% people end up experiencing abdominal discomfort after a colonoscopy. This discomfort is not very serious and usually goes away on its own. In rare cases, the abdominal pain indicates something serious, especially if you have persistent pain after the procedure.

Causes of Pain After Colonoscopy

The abdominal discomfort you usually experience after a colonoscopy does not indicate anything serious, but you should see your doctor if your pain persists or become worse with time. Generally, the following might cause you feel discomfort. 

1.   Trapped Gas

Most people experience abdominal pain after a colonoscopy when they have trapped gas. The procedure involves inflating the bowel with the help of the colonoscope, but sometimes, not all of the air is suctioned out after the completion of the exam. You experience pain when the colon contracts to get rid of the gas. Talk to your doctor and follow their advice to relieve your pain.

2.   Tearing of the Colon

The pain you experience could be the result of any tears that happen when your surgeon bends and pushes the colonoscope through intestine. The tears usually occur behind the lens, so they are not visible to the camera. Your pain is likely to become worse when bowel contents leak through the tear. The condition usually requires immediate medical attention. Surgery may be needed to correct the problem.

3.   Perforation of the Colon

It is possible to sustain an injury with the leading end of the scope. The colon may be perforated because of the scope hurting the intestinal wall. There may even be a hole caused by the removal of a polyp. It is important to treat perforations immediately. When they go unnoticed, they cause severe pain after colonoscopy, especially when bowel contents begin leaking through the perforation. You usually require surgery to fix the issue.

4.   Injuries Outside the Colon

Since the colon is attached to other organs, like the liver and spleen, it is possible to hurt these organs during the exam. It happens when the scope pulls on those attachments. This may cause tearing of those organs and you may experience abdominal pain with bleeding. There may be other symptoms as well, including dizziness, palpitations, and fainting. You may require surgery to correct the problem.

What to Do

It is important to inform your doctor about your pain and any other symptoms you may be experiencing. This will help them to evaluate your condition in a better way. You should also tell your doctor if you have the following problems along with pain:

Here are some other things to keep in mind when dealing with abdominal pain after colonoscopy:

1.   Follow Your Doctor's Advice

You should always follow whatever instructions your doctor has given. You need to take your medicines on time and as prescribed by your primary healthcare provider. And it is important to inform them of any vitamins, medicines, or herbs you may already be taking.

You may have to take pain relievers to control your abdominal pain. Ask your doctor how to take the medicine and how much is needed. It is usually important to take your medicine at the onset of your pain – do not wait until your pain becomes worse. Be very careful about what you do after taking pain medicine because it can make you sleepy or dizzy.

2.   Ask About Follow-Up Visits

For continuing treatments, care, and home services, you should always ask for more info. Ask them how long you have to wait to get the results of your procedure. Be clear about when to go for follow-up visits. Never skip any appointments to avoid dealing with complications.

3.   Take Steps to Avoid Constipation

4.   Pay Attention to Your Diet

5.   Increase Your Intake of Liquids

You should drink about 9-13 8-oz cups of liquid every day. Drinking plenty of water is always the best choice, but you should also drink milk and juice. Soup, coffee, and fruit juices also help keep you hydrated. Be sure to ask your doctor about how much liquid you should drink regularly.

6.   Additional Tips

Along with working with your doctor and following their advice, you can also try some other tips to avoid having pain after colonoscopy. For instance:

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