If you care about your health and well-being, then you may want to know, "how often should you have a colonoscopy?". A colonoscopy can be used to detect colon cancer, a potentially life-threatening disease. However, other issues can also be detected with a colonoscopy, such as ulcers, diverticulitis, inflamed tissues and abnormal growths. Learning more about a colonoscopy and it's medical uses will help you determine how often you should have a colonoscopy.
- Routine colonoscopies Once you turn 50 years old, you should start getting routine colonoscopies. If you have no family history and no other symptoms of series conditions like colon cancer, you should have a colonoscopy about once every ten years. As you get older, your risk for colon cancer increases significantly, which is why routine screenings usually start at age 50.
- Family history If you have a family history of colon cancer, polyps, inflammatory bowel disease or a related disorder, then you are at a higher risk for developing such conditions. If you have ever suffered from one of these conditions, you are also considered high risk. Therefore, you will most likely receive a colonoscopy at a younger age than 50, and you may need to have one every few years, rather than every ten years. Your exact risk needs to be assessed by a trained physician, so if you have these risk factors, you should see your doctor to discuss when you should have a colonoscopy.
- Symptoms If you have symptoms that are related to certain disorders, such as colon cancer, inflammatory bowel disease or ulcers, then you may need to have a colonoscopy, regardless of your age or family history. Symptoms to look out for include diarrhea, constipation, other changes in bowel habits, abdominal pain and cramping, unexplained weight loss and rectal bleeding. If you experience these symptoms, talk with your doctor about when you should have a colonoscopy.
- Recovery time. You can’t have a colonoscopy and then just go about your day as normal. Before a colonoscopy is given, you will take a mild sedative, meaning you won’t be able to drive for at least 24 hours after the procedure. Furthermore, you may be required to stay at the doctor’s office or clinic for one to two hours after the colonoscopy, which can take half an hour to an hour to complete. You should only have a colonoscopy when you have adequate time to recover.