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How to Prepare Eating for an Endoscopy

An endoscopy is a medical procedure in which a camera on the end of a flexible tube is put into the patient’s mouth and moved down into the upper part of the digestive tract. A doctor called a gastroenterologist, who specializes in the digestive system, uses the camera to perform an examination. An endoscopy can be used to diagnose conditions affecting the beginning of the small intestine (called the duodenum), stomach and esophagus, and in some cases, treat them.

The procedure must be performed with no food in the stomach. This article provides information on eating before and after an endoscopy.

How to Prepare for an Endoscopy

Can I Eat Before an Endoscopy?

If your doctor says they’ll be ordering testing for your digestive problem, you may be wondering, “Can you eat before an endoscopy?”. The answer is that your stomach must be empty, so your eating and drinking will be restricted before the procedure. Your doctor or nurse will provide specific directions based on your particular case.

How Long Before an Endoscopy Can I Eat?

People who are scheduled for an endoscopy will typically ask, “How long before an endoscopy can I eat?”. While your doctor may have different requirements for you, generally speaking, patients shouldn’t eat or drink for at least six hours before the procedure. This gives your body time to move any food in your system farther down the digestive tract.

Mention Medications And Allergies

You should also tell your doctor about any allergies you have and about any prescription and over-the-counter medications you’re taking. Your doctor may tell you to change your dosage or to stop taking certain medications before the endoscopy. Some medications can increase your risk for bleeding during the procedure. These medications include:

  • anti-inflammatory medications
  • warfarin (Coumadin)
  • heparin
  • aspirin
  • any blood thinners

Any medications that cause drowsiness can interfere with the sedatives that the procedure will require. Antianxiety medications and many antidepressants could affect your response to the sedative.

If you take insulin or other medications to control diabetes, it’s important to make a plan with your doctor so your blood sugar doesn’t get too low.

Don’t make any changes to your daily dosage unless your doctor tells you to do so.

Know The Risks Of The Procedure

Make sure you understand the risks of the procedure and the complications that might occur. Complications are rare, but can include the following:

  • Aspiration occurs when food or liquid gets into the lungs. This can happen if you eat or drink before the procedure. Make sure to follow your doctor’s instructions about fasting to prevent this complication.
  • An adverse reaction may happen if you’re allergic to certain medications, such as the sedatives you’re given to relax during the procedure. These drugs can also interfere with other medication you may be taking. Be sure to tell your doctor about any medications you’re taking.
  • Bleeding can occur if polyps are removed or if a biopsy is performed. However, bleeding is usually minor and can easily be remedied.
  • Tearing can happen in the area being examined. However, this is highly unlikely.

What Foods Can I Eat After an Endoscopy?

To prepare for your procedure, you should ask your doctor what to eat after endoscopy so that you have the right foods at home. The foods to eat after endoscopy should be soft and easily digested. Examples include:

  • Soup
  • Eggs
  • Pudding
  • Applesauce
  • Juice

You shouldn’t eat or drink until you can comfortably swallow. When you resume eating, you should keep your meals small and light for 24-48 hours. Once you feel like you’re back to normal, you can resume your typical diet.

Read more GERD Everything You Need to Know About Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease

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