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When Should I Schedule My First Colonoscopy?

The doctor’s office is a great place to be honest about your health and get expert advice on how to treat what ails you. It’s also a place where you have to go through some less-than-comfortable experiences like colonoscopies in the name of health. 

At Northside Gastroenterology Associates, Dr. Ayub Hussain and our experienced staff recognize that while not all procedures are pleasant, they’re often necessary to protect your health. That’s why we want to prepare you for your colonoscopy, starting with your very first appointment. 

Why do you need a colonoscopy?

Before we can give you advice on when you get your first colonoscopy, it’s best to discuss why you need one in the first place. 

You need a colonoscopy mainly for preventive measures, as they’re your first line of defense against serious health threats like colon cancer. 

Polyps, a warning sign of colon cancer, can also be removed during routine or follow-up colonoscopies.

They’re also useful if Dr. Hussain needs to investigate the source of any abdominal pain, rectal bleeding, chronic constipation and diarrhea, and other intestinal issues. 

When do you need a colonoscopy?

If you’re symptom-free and don’t have any traces of colon cancer in your family’s medical history, you can afford to put off your first colonoscopy until you turn 50

If you’re at average risk for colon cancer, you should see Dr. Hussain for your first colonoscopy at age 45. Your risk for colon cancer rises if you have family history of the condition or are African-American. 

From there, the frequency at which you schedule colonoscopies varies depending on your health and life expectancy. 

You typically need to schedule regular colonoscopies until you’ve reached the age of 75. Between 75-85, you can opt out of colonoscopies based on your preference, life expectancy, overall health, and prior screening history. 

Beyond 85 years old, you no longer need regular colonoscopies. 

What can you expect during your first colonoscopy?

Your colonoscopy actually starts a few days before you ever walk into the office. Depending on your specific dietary needs, you’re put on a low-fiber diet and bowel-clearing fluids leading up to your colonoscopy. On the day of your appointment, you should only drink liquids. 

When you arrive for your appointment, you recline comfortably on your left side. Dr. Hussain then inserts the colonoscope, a long flexible tube with a camera attached on the end, into your rectum. 

The colonoscope projects an image of the lining of your colon as it moves through your large intestine, blowing air to expand your colon and give Dr. Hussain a better view. 

Colonoscopies have gained a bad reputation for being invasive and uncomfortable, but the opposite is true. You might experience a bit of mild cramping or pressure, but the procedure isn’t painful. Dr. Hussain gives you a mild sedative before he begins to further ensure that you’re comfortable and relaxed for the duration of the colonoscopy. 

After the procedure, which typically lasts anywhere from 30-60 minutes, you rest briefly in a recovery room before being driven home by a loved one or relative. 

Whether you’ve put off your first colonoscopy or just simply didn’t know where to start, our expert team is here to answer your questions. Call our office or schedule an appointment online to discuss any concerns you might have or set up your first colonoscopy. 

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