Colonoscopy and Colyte can be fun if you do it right.

People hate drinking the Colyte laxative.

This updates the post about fixing the worst thing about a colonoscopy examination. Most people say they hate drinking the gallon of awful gut-cleansing laxative Colyte and its alternative Golytely beverage the night before the medical exam. I posted a review of this problem last year and have thought some more about it since then. Below are a few new and improved suggestions which will help billions of future people drink that foul tasteless fluid easily.

A method for drinking foul tasting fluids

The trick is to drink something pleasantly strong smelling and strong tasting immediately before the Colyte and then quickly gulp down the laxative stuff without breathing and then take another couple of swallows of the spicy good tasting stuff before breathing in though the nose and out through the mouth. It’s easier to do than to describe. Basically (Take a couple of deep breaths, swallow some spicy tea, gulp down the Colyte, swallow some more tea, breathe.) All of these fluids are best taken at room temperature.

How to put a little more fun into your Colyte experience.

To make this procedure even more fun you can drink a different spicy thing after the gulp. To make the whole ordeal even more fun, even entertaining, make it a challenge to find a different tasty thing to drink every single time both before and after the big gulp. There is a huge potential list of clear fluids which might be legitimately consumed. Perhaps one could consider this an opportunity to explore the many varieties of teas, coffees, jellos and sodas that you generally consider outside your normal routine. However, you are supposed to avoid red colored drinks for the last few purgings because the color might stain the colon and make interpreting any abnormal colon skin discolorations more difficult for your doctor. Dark colored Coke might be okay for the first several cycles of this procedure but the last ones used should be with pale colorless fluids like green tea, peppermint tea or flavored clear soda water. This whole cycle takes about 16 seconds, and most people can easily hold their breath that long if they take a couple of deep breaths before starting. If you can’t hold your breath that long, breathe in a little through your nose only, midway through the gulps while keeping your mouth closed, and then continue drinking. When you drink it all at once you can take a sip of something good tasting and smelling before and after the Colyte and you won’t even taste it; you will taste only the spicy first drink and the last one and the stuff in between will have no taste or odor at all. Just don’t breathe while drinking it and think pleasant thoughts.

The old cold-drink method doesn’t work very well.

The usual recommendation is to cool the laxative fluids to about 40°F in a refrigerator. They recommend this low temperature because it helps to suppress the foul taste but I found that to be bad advice because it is so cold that it becomes difficult to drink the Colyte quickly. That cold drink procedure becomes counterproductive because it takes longer to drink the stuff and it is in your mouth longer. While in your mouth it warms up and then tastes bad. What works better is to have it at about room temperature, 70°F. That temperature is a balance between easy to drink quickly and minimal odor and so you can easily drink it in one group of quick swallows.

Most of your time is your usual fun activities.

Although the gallon bottle looks impossibly large to drink in a single day it turns out to be easily done because the large volume of fluid doesn’t actually enter your body proper but it just goes inside your intestines and on out into the toilet in about ten minutes, before it gets assimilated into your body. Doing this procedure can get boring though because you are trapped and can’t go far away from a toilet, so you should pre-plan for some easily paused activity such as watching a movie. However, if you choose that option make sure you know how to operate the pause button on short notice. Yes, I mean short notice. You might practice this operation beforehand if you don’t usually pause to poo. Reading might not be distracting enough unless it is something rather racy, and computer work sort of keeps you hunched over in a tummy squeezing posture which may complicate matters a bit. It is probably okay to go to bed after your final drink and poo cycle but leave a bit of time, at least ten minutes, just to be sure. It might be a good idea to have a small towel tucked into the danger zone, just in case there is any anal leakage.

No pain at all if you accept the sedation.

The actual colonoscopy procedure is sort of fun if you like people fussing over you and don’t mind artificially friendly strangers putting probes up your butt. I have done it twice now, about ten years apart, once with sedation and once without. If they offer you sedation, go for it. That only takes a couple of minutes longer in the recovery room and you avoid all the possibility of pain. Actually the pain was only about like biting one’s tongue by pressing it upward forcefully against a canine tooth with just your tongue muscles. Not all that much pain but it’s way up inside of your guts and totally out of your control so it seems to hurt more than it really does.

A painless colonoscopy is better than a year of painful dying.

Colon cancer graphic showing stages of colon cancer

The stages of colon cancer. Click the picture link to details.

It’s a good idea to get these tests occasionally because if the first tiny colon cancer polyps are caught early they can be removed right during the exam. If the problem is corrected early the pleasant part of your life may be prolonged by many years into the future. If you don’t catch them your life will definitely be shorter and increasingly very unpleasant.

Leave a comment about your experiences – good, bad and other.

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46 thoughts on “Colonoscopy and Colyte can be fun if you do it right.

  1. Pingback: Colonoscopy – and how to enjoy drinking the foul tasting purging fluids. | Probaway – Life Hacks

  2. I’m sorry I duplicated so much of what was written in the update! I didn’t see that link till after I’d posted all mine. Anyway, this was all such a great learning experience that I’m printing all of this to take to my doctor today. He should give this to all his patients. I am puzzled that neither the drug company nor the doctors have done this before.

  3. I’m sorry I didn’t see update link till after I’d posted all mine. Anyway, Probaway, you’ve done a wonderful service to humanity here. I’m printing this and taking it to my doctor today and trust he will give the site to all his patients.

    P.S. I did okay with it all being cold – now wonder if it would have been even better at the temps you advised. :-)

  4. Great site-My experience with Colyte is to have it refrigerated, and measure out an 8oz glass. insert a straw, and quickly (and nearly tastelessly) drink it down. I also grab a lollipop or a strongly flavoured candy like ouzo (greek anise/licorice candies), and that takes care if the afteryuk.Breathing deeply and calmly also helps. As to sedation during the procedure,I’m in! You can totally relax and trust your gastro gal or guy to do their best work around those tight corners. Be sure to have a loved one drive you home post-procedure- you’ll be too stoned to drive.Cheers and good luck-prevention always trumps illness!

  5. Follow up thought – had an EGD done twice with the colonoscopy. They were a bit bashful with the sedative on the first go round and I remember gagging. So, the second time around I told them to hit me with the good stuff (or just more of the regular stuff) so I was a bit further out when they did the EGD, and it went fine.

  6. Tried holding nose while gulping down, room temp stuff, last time. Helped “some”. Will sure try the straw, and also the strong taste before and after this time… Don’t know why they can’t figure out some way to make the prep fluid taste better, or use less of it….

  7. I had a colonoscopy 10 years ago and i tooks pills but i can’t find anyone that will prescribe the pills anymore. anyone?

  8. i had one done and i had to take pills instead of drinking the liquid.i can’t find anyone that will precribe the pills . they still make them. any suggestions

  9. Pingback: How to cure cancer. Maybe. « Probaway – Life Hacks

  10. my doctor recommended adding a non-red flavor of “chrystal light” to the colyte. have you ever tried that, and did it help?

    i’m glad to have found your site – the “pre-procedure” sounds way worse that the procedure… and i have the pleasure of starting the colyte the night before, and finishing in the morning. ugh…

    • For my colonoscopy my doctor recommended putting 2 packets of lemon Crystal Light into the PEG powder jug before adding the water and doing the mix. I quickly drank 8 oz. chilled with a straw every 20 minutes with ease until 3.5 liters were consumed and that was it. This mix tasted like a salted margarita without the tequila. I would do it again if I need to. Good luck!

      • I am having my first colonoscopy tomorrow and this is what my doc recommended. Adding lemon flavor Crystal Light packets to Colyte jug and drinking cold.

        It doesn’t taste nearly as bad as I had imagined. It’s salty and lemony. Totally doable.

  11. drinking like this will most likely make me throw up! Our pharmacist recommended using Crystal lite instead of the flavor packs! Worked well for hubby, I will find out in a couple of hours!

  12. colyte …. drank about half jug in 3 hours … not only began vomiting but horrible retching as well, took a 30 min break, drank 8 oz again in 5 min began same vomiting… you people are crazy if you think this is a pleasant, just hold your breath, or bite a lemon, chase it with jello …experience. there has to be a better way to cleanse colon than this horrible huge amount of fluid…

  13. After being on clear liquids for two days and downing a jug of Colyte tonight, I will refuse anymore “routine colonoscopies” suggested by my MD unless I start having weird symptoms. Surely medical science can come up with a way to prep for this exam better…

  14. I am currently drinking the disgusting liquid and have been using sparkling apple cider as my before and after gulping friend. I now wish I had heard of spiced tea. It sounds strong enough to overpower the nasty taste. I am half way through and just want to dump it already. I wish I could just chug it but I gag every 4 ounces. It’s going to be a long night….

  15. Did the prep tonight. Started strong – got about half of the 4 litre jug down in 90 minutes with sips – 8 ounces every ten minutes. Stomach felt really full. Second half was harder. Pooped watery poo a lot after the first half. Started feeling nauseous 3/4 of the way through and barfed up a cup or so of the liquid. Took a 20 minute break then spread it out a bit more. Last liter I used an apple juice chaser which was better but slower. I am so friggen hungry right now and I could use a smoke.

  16. I was surprised that my first BM was total brown water. It basically pulverized whatever was in there. After I barfed I had the shakes so I had to take a 20 minute break. This prep made me drowsy. Took a long time and lots of BM to go clear but it did eventually. Pretty sure there’s nothing in there anymore. I guess you got to clean it out but man it sucks. I’ll post what the procedure was like tomorrow.

  17. I find the flavor itself isn’t that “unbearable” it’s the slimy texture of it…like drinking mucous…I keep gagging….any tips for not gagging on the texture? I just started, on my third glass and I don’t want to vomit….

  18. Some good suggestions here. I am bracing for my first one tomorrow so have to start drinking this glop in an hour or so. Oddly, the instructions say chilling makes it taste better … Thanks for letting me know I can drink OTHER stuff as well, and I’ve also seen suggestions that say you can take brief breaks if you start feeling nauseated — I couldn’t see the point in forcing yourself to keep drinking the stuff if you’re just puking it back up immediately. Wish I could have a Virgin Caesar but of course the tomato juice is prohibited. :-)

  19. Just had my 8th colonoscopy. (I need to get them more often because of family history.) I was dreading it because the previous 7 were unpleasant. But this suggestion really, really worked well. I tolerated it much easier than before and the spiced tea did linger on my taste buds. I won’t roll my eyes next time the doc says I am due. Thanks!!

  20. I added the Lemon Crystal light as per pharmacist instructions. I also had it very cold and drank with a straw. I chased each gulp with hot vegetable broth. The broth definitely helped me keep going and stopped the gag reflex. I survived and I was not my best day, but I’ve had worse. Good luck.

  21. I am really pleased to glance at this weblog posts which
    includes plenty of useful information, thanks for providing these information.

  22. I am drinking the colyte at tgis very moment. I was able to get the first litre and a half down quite quickly, but this last half has been murder! At least I know it’s wirking, though. I had brown, (extremely) watery stool after one hour and 20 minutes of starting to drink the stuff.

    I still have to consume 2L before my examination tomorrow at 1PM. I might chicken out and only down 1L. I have heard through the grapevine that I can stop when nothing else comes out. Hey, when there’s nothin’, there’s nothin’.

    And I’m going to try it at room temp. I got the chills from downing so much cold water.

    Wish me luck!

  23. I am doing the fun colyte prep as we speak. I went down the middle with the chill. Mine is colder than room temp but, not forty degrees either. I am using a diet Ginger Ale chaser and it works very well. I went to McDonalds and got a couple of their giant red straws. It goes down quicker. For me, I can chug 16+oz pretty quickly so I drink 8+ oz take a chaser sip, wait five minutes and chug the other 8+oz and ginger ale chaser. I did this four times for my 64+ oz. On the bright side……I’m not hungry anymore.

    I have to get up at 2am to start this process all over again. Honestly, don’t breath just chug and take the chaser. It is a lot better than the hideous magnesium citrate they had me do yesterday. I am on a two day clear liquid fast. Magnesium citrate the first day and the Colyte today and tomorrow morning. Colonoscopy at 7:30 am and then FOOD!

  24. I had a colonoscopy ten years ago and drank the Golytly that time. I guess it’s a lot like childbirth: you forget the horror you went through your first go and then you’re in it for round two. Two days before I have to start the liquid only diet, then half the Colyte the evening before, and the rest the morning of. Not looking forward to this, but appreciate the tips to help guzzle all this liquid. This time next week it will all be over.

  25. I have crohns disease and unfortunately I have been having endo/coloi’s for 40 years. They never get easier, are not fun, make me sick and are a necessary evil in my opinion. The procedure itself is a piece of cake, but paying someone to torchure an already inflammed gut seems a bit counterproductive. The drink hasn’t improved in 40 years. I personally would rather starve, and actually did for my last resection of intestine and it was much less traumatic for my body.

  26. I licked a lemon before and after each large swallow of the stuff. It really helps but I’m with everyone who says this is barbaric. I won’t do this again.

    • Drink a couple of ounces of 7-Up or tea after the Colyte to flush it away from your mouth. Just licking a lemon won’t flush all the gunky stuff away. It’s better to do the barbaric procedure than to die a slow, hideous death from colon cancer. Anyway, live long and enjoy yourself.

      • Stuff tastes like crap but was able to diagnose my canter early and surgery was a complete success with no chemo or radiation. So drink up folks and enjoy the rest of your life. Thanks to all of those who make our lives a little longer.

  27. I received so many good tips here, I thought I would pay it forward with my experience.
    The best advice regarding drinking the Golightly was to have handy some lemon or lime slices. Before each glassful, I sucked on the lemon, then held my nose the entire time I drank the glass, sometimes in two separate gulps, always holding my nose and breathing out through my mouth. At the end of swallowing, I took another little suck on the lemon, then released my nose. I did not taste *anything at all* except for the lemon. Knowing I was going to use this technique, I did not add any flavor to the Golightly.
    I found it difficult to find things to eat / drink that werent full of sugar or artificial sweeteners, which I despise. I made my own jello using clear organic fruit juice. in retrospect, I wish I had made some savory jello using chicken broth. I definitely imbibed more sugar then I was accustomed to but I felt that I needed some sort of sustenance.
    I gather everyone has a different response to the Golightly. I was drinking a glass full every 10 minutes, which was pushing it, but I was desperate to get it over with and get some sleep in between the first and second parts of the drinking. I started to go after about an hour, and continued about every 10 minutes, which seemed to coincide with the drinking of each glass. So after about three to three and a half hours I was done. I had no cramps.
    I slept about 5 hours, then I woke to repeat.
    The procedure itself was super easy. they put me out. When I woke up, I didn’t remember anything. I was lucky and had no polyp removal, so I can’t speak to what discomfort that might have caused.
    Good luck to y’all!

  28. im having the procedure done april 14th… but IM getting General An. Propophol and hydromorphone … im very nervous of a person so i couldnt do it any other way. but about the prep drink…..I suffer from severe opoiod induced constipation and idiopathic. I also have an, array of intestinal problems so im always in pain.
    I vomit all the time , and have to push so hard to poo , i have to squeeze a towel..and i am on LINZESS 290mcg ,COLACE and prilosec and probiotics. Thats just the stomach meds. oh and zofran my baby i cant get in a car with out it or i vomit. so im worried IM gunna start vomiting up all the PEG solution , i am very constpitated today so non of my meds were making an evacuation… i didnt want another blockage to form so i said FUCK IT im opening my prep drink and i put to table spoons in a 10oz glass and drank it…its barly even moving anything and its been 2 hours. but i got irrythmias from that burst of electrolites or something cuz i started shaking and had to take a xanax……….how and the hell am I going to be able to do this whole thing…id have to take zofran every time i go or ill gag and dry heave til i feel death………

    I thought it was just straight up PEG like miralax which is tasteless… but those electrolights fucked me up 1 plastic cup uh like baking soda and water..and they never gave me no flavor packets .

    but is that the only way >? cant i do like 4 fleets back to back…lol im not joking i have a very sensitive gut thats why im doing this test in the first place. cuz all the pain is in the small intestent really and the colon , thought I got a hernea the other day from pushing to hard…. its a mess. and the rappid heart irrythmeas freaked me out from 1 cup……..i hope i can do this…. any thoughts wud be great

  29. I just went through my 1st colonoscopy this morning. I was initially supposed to do the prep with Colyte, but the sheer quantity of liquid made me ask Kaiser for an alternative, and they suggested I go with Miralax/Gatorade and Dulcolax. I think my experience could probably apply no matter what prep you did. Miralax is a powder, you mix it with your choice drink providing not red or purple, and preferably with electrolytes. Most energy drinks have that. Dulcolax is a pill to soften stools. I don’t like Gatorade, so I ended up mixing the contents of the Miralax with a variety of drinks, as I figured variety would help. You end up with 64 ounces of liquid, to drink in a split dose: half the afternoon/evening before procedure, the other half about 5 hrs before procedure (in my case started drinking 2nd dose at 5am to be finished at 7am for a 10.30am procedure).

    So… if you can, ask your doctor if you can use Miralax, as the smaller amount of liquid to drink makes it far more palatable. It doesn’t have a taste as such, so my recommendation is to divide it into 3-4 batches of drinks you like. You drink an 8 ounce glass every 20-30 minutes, so alternating taste really helps. Cold drinks helped me, but that would vary for different people. I didn’t need a straw, I just gulped the mixture down. It was not slimy, just perhaps a bit thicker then you’d expect a soft drink to be.

    A few tips on this blog helped me a lot:
    – I ate less if the few days before prep, and mostly soft or liquid things the day before starting the prep (less in = less out, and also you don’t feel the hunger pangs as much as your body slowly got used to less).
    – I drank a lot and lot of other fluids to remain hydrated, broth, light iced tea, water, clear juice, etc.
    – I started the prep (Dulcolax and Miralax) a couple hrs earlier then advised. I’m glad I did this as I took the pills at 2.30pm, and my first 8 ounce glass at 2.45pm, and it took 3 hrs before I had my first bowel movement. Had I started at the scheduled time I would have been up at night. This way I went to bed at 11pm, no BM during the night, got up at 5am and took second batch, finished at 6.30am, and was able to sleep for another couple hrs before getting ready for procedure. = less stress and proper night sleep.
    – by the way, I wasn’t sure what my stools were supposed to look like when “done”. Simple: light yellow or orange liquid. The instructions tell you this, but worth repeating. Complete your mixture even if your stools are “ready”. And continue hydrating with other clear liquids up to 3 or 4hrs before procedure (my instructions stated NO liquid 3hrs before procedure, but some say 4hrs).
    – keep a playful attitude. Whoever wrote about keeping it “light” had a point. I was terrorized before starting, but this blog and other ressources helped a lot, and in the end it was very easy.

    The procedure itself was done with a sedative, so I was comfortable, absolutely no pain, just some slight pressure like gas, and the strange sensation that you might lose control of your bowels. No fear, you won’t. It’s just a sensation. It was done in 20min, I could have fallen asleep but I chose to watch the monitor. And happy to say all clear, next time in 10 years:-)

    A big thank you to all the contributors, and to whoever started this blog!

  30. PS: full schedule was this:

    afternoon prior to procedure:
    2.30pm: 2 Bisacodyl (Dulcolax)
    2.45pm: 1st 8 ounce liquid mixture Miralax (I actually had the generic version)
    3.15pm: 2nd 8 ounce liquid mixture (alternating flavors)
    4.00pm: 3rd 8 ounce liquid mixture
    4.25pm: remaining of 1st glass (I had misjudged and drank a bit less then 8 ounce)
    5.05: 4th 8 ounce liquid mixture
    6.00pm: 5th 8 ounce liquid mixture (this was part of my next morning batch, but I was having no “results” and also wanted to have a bit less to drink that next morning)
    6.15: first bowel movement
    7.50pm: second BM
    … continued regularly until about 11pm when I went to bed. Sort of orange liquid by the time I went to bed with small pellets.

    morning of procedure:
    5.30am: 6th 8 ounce liquid mixture
    5.55am: 7th 8 ounce liquid mixture
    6.20am: 8th 8 ounce liquid mixture (making a total of 64 ounces or prep drink)
    6.40am: 5 ounce Magnesium Citrate
    6.55am: 3 ounce Magnesium Citrate (I was supposed to drink 10 ounces MC once done with prep. I got the lemon flavor, it’s sparkly, a bit salty. At that point I was done with liquids, so took it in 2 doses, and didn’t quite finish the 2nd dose).
    7am: Stopped all liquids, as procedure scheduled for 10.30am
    A few BM through that morning, but still able to get some sleep until 8.30am when it was time to get ready for procedure.

    • Thank you for your thorough description. I live almost 2 hrs from the hosp that will do the colonoscopy. I needed to know how long the effect lasted after the 2nd half for obvious reasons. My biggest anxiety about this is how to get there without having diarrhea in the car or beside the road.

  31. This is torture….My husband went to a gastrointerologist for his colonoscopy and they don’t use this barbaric concoction any longer …2 packets of prepopik. Mixed with water…then you drink 5 glasses if water and thats,about it…….I went to my surgeon tgat does all my colonoscopy ed because ge,had all my records and he back to using tgat dreadful disgusting colyte…I pray o can get it all down….Next time I am going to go to the gastrointerologist…..much easier preparation!!!

  32. Scared to death. Somewhere I read that you should not have this procedure
    if you’ve had a bowel obstruction. They don’t address this in the preparation
    instructions. Has anyone out there had this procedure after having a bowel
    blocked and subsequent surgery?

  33. I’m doing this right now. Finished the first disgusting half and have to get up at 4am for the second half. Just pooping dirty water now and starving. BUT if it helps doctors find anything suspicious, it’s worth it. The worse part was taking two Dulcolax two nights ago. I’ve never been so sick in my life! I nearly called 911!! So the Colyte is a breeze. I took a gravel before drinking it just in case. I didn’t want a repeat of the day before. Good luck everyone, stay strong!

  34. OMG, wish I had found this site last week. I had a colonoscopy last Friday. Had the horrific gallon jug of Colyte with the lemon flavoring that comes with it. I took 3 Dulcolax at noon and began the Colyte at 6pm. Supposed to drink 8oz every 10 minutes that night and then 6 more glasses in the morning. I got to 8 glasses and couldn’t do any more. The texture of the solution was what got to me – ugh! All I can tell you is take the tips you learned above and drink the whole prep. I now have to go back within 12 months for another colonoscopy as they were able to see the right side but the left side wasn’t clear enough. I’m going to try Miralax next time. One thing no one has mentioned is that you are not supposed to drink anything with sugar when you drink the Colyte because it will produce excessive painful gas (as if you need that on top of everything you’re already going through!) so make sure you’re chasing the Colyte with something sugar free – good luck!

  35. Colyte? A desired effect? My body rejected the stuff, here’s what happened:

    First, I drank 1st half then bad diarrhea for 2-3 hours. Stopped 2-3 hours, then repeated but slightly less intense and lasted for 6 hours, then stopped for 2 hours then restarted for 5 hours, then stopped for 3 hours then restarted for 5 hours, on and on this pattern continued for 3 days, then after that longer breaks in between and much less intense but still had to stay home for another 2 days…mind you, I only drank that half because when I saw this I realized my body had rejected it so I skipped the rest.

    That makes 5 days I was stuck at home.

    When I called the colonoscopy clinic to cancel the colonoscopy I told them this happened, she said it shouldn’t have done that to me.

    So, I can’t the test…ever, unless they come up with a better way to do it. But I’m not surprised my body reacted badly. We’re talking a body that can’t take 20 medications because of allergic reactions and crippling effects! My body’s just that way…oh well…what can you do…..

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