A gut being observed under a magnifying glass

The Importance of Having a Colonoscopy

Living with IBS of any form causes enough pain and suffering, wouldn’t you agree? So what are your thoughts when your physician recommends a colonoscopy with your already existing symptoms?

Why does colonoscopy make IBS symptoms worse?

I’ve heard a lot of patients say that getting a colonoscopy makes their IBS symptoms worse. Why is this? One physician suggests that it is actually not the colonoscopy procedure itself that causes worsening IBS symptoms, but the prep prior to having it, and any insult to the gut can take up to months to recover from.1 After a colonoscopy, gastric and intestinal operations can slow or shut down. This can cause complications such as dyspepsia, gastritis, an obstruction and perforation of the bowels.2 Side effects may worsen by the suggestion to increase fiber intake when resuming a normal diet after the procedure. To me, this makes a lot of sense. I will have to admit, the thought of taking a bowel prep with my present IBS symptoms absolutely terrifies me!

Benefits of colonoscopy

Now, let’s talk about the benefits of having a colonoscopy. As a nurse, I will always support and encourage regular health screenings, as many cancers can be prevented through these screenings. The American Cancer Society recommends that colorectal cancer screening should start at age 45. It can find precancerous polyps, which are abnormal growths in the colon or rectum. These polyps can be removed before they turn into cancer. Colorectal screenings are vital because when found early, colorectal cancer is highly treatable. It is also important to note that the early stage of colorectal cancer typically does not present any symptoms. Many factors increase a person’s risk of colon cancer, and one of them is the presence of irritable bowel disease.3 Below is a list of symptoms that should be checked out by a physician. While they can occur in those who have colorectal cancer, they can also be caused by other curable conditions:

  • A change in bowel habits lasting more than a few weeks
  • A feeling of having to have a bowel movement that doesn’t go away even after having one
  • Rectal bleeding, dark stools, or if you notice blood in the stool
  • Stomach discomfort, bloating or any unrelieved stomach pain
  • Unexplained weakness and fatigue
  • Unexplained weight loss

So do I think the benefits of having a colonoscopy outweigh the possible side effects afterwards? Absolutely!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The IrritableBowelSyndrome.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.
View References
  1. Frequently Asked Questions About Colonoscopies. (2017, July 24). Retrieved September 26, 2018, from https://www.iffgd.org/tests-diagnosis/colonoscopy.html
  2. Levin TR, Zhao W, Conell C, Seeff LC, Manninen DL, Shapiro JA, et al. Complications of Colonoscopy in an Integrated Health Care Delivery System. Ann Intern Med. ;145:880–886. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-145-12-200612190-00004
  3. Colorectal Cancer, Early Detection, Screening. (n.d.). Retrieved September 26, 2018, from https://www.cancercare.org/publications/116-colorectal_cancer_the_importance_of_screening_and_early_detection

Comments

View Comments (1)
  • ExplodingGuts
    3 months ago

    It’s not as if the procedure is avoidable if you want to move forward in treatment. Which makes sense, I suppose. Doc must confirm presence/absence of certain causes, such as cancer, polyps, which s/he can’t do w/o the intrusive test.

    Aside from that, in my case, colonoscopy and endos-what’s-it was a nothing burger. Both procedures same day. No follow-up requested by doc, either, so I assume no need.

    Post-colonscopy, IBS cont’d just as before until in frustration I decided to discontinue all the fiber and Dexilant and probiotics – all of it. This for the most part ended the daily explosions. Still a few maybe one or two days a week but MUCH better. Aside from that, I notice NO discernible pattern.

    It is a great relief to have whole hours go by when I don’t think about my stomach or having to hurry to the bathroom. Immodium seems to contain what few explosions I still suffer occasionally, though I continue to live in fear of them.

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