The first thing that you should know is that there are different types of endoscopy procedures. In an upper gastrointestinal (GI) endoscopy, for example, you will have an endoscope placed through your mouth. An endoscope is a tube with a camera attached to it.

It might be the case that you need an upper GI endoscopy to check for structural problems or peptic ulcers. You may also need the procedure if you have gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD. You may require such a procedure to see if you have it.

An upper GI endoscopy can help to spot a hiatal hernia, which is where your stomach pushes up into your chest.

Preparing for an upper GI endoscopy is important in preparing for a smooth procedure. You’ll be told exactly what you need to do in preparation for the procedure, but below are some general to give you an idea of what to expect.

Discuss medical conditions

Let your doctor know of any health conditions like cancer or heart disease. You’ll also need to let them know if you’re expecting. This information will help your doctor in deciding on any precautions that may need to be taken in order for the procedure to be performed as safely as possible.

You should also tell your doctor if you have any allergies, or if you’re taking any over-the-counter or prescription medications. You may be instructed to cease taking certain medications prior to the endoscopy- or at least change the dosage. Some medications can increase the likelihood of bleeding during the procedure. Such medications include

  • Aspirin
  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Heparin
  • Any blood thinners
  • Warfarin (Coumadin)

Medications that lead to drowsiness can cause an issue with the sedatives required by the procedure. Your response to the sedative could be affected by anti-anxiety medications or antidepressants.

If you take diabetes medications such as insulin, consult with your doctor on a plan designed to ensure your blood sugar doesn’t fall too low.

Don’t change your dosages unless by your doctor.

Know the risks of the procedure

Be aware of any risks that come with the procedure, as well as any potential complications. While these are rare, these may include the following:

  • Aspiration occurs from food or liquid entering the lungs. Eating or drinking prior to the procedure can bring this about. Follow any fasting instructions given to you by your doctor in order to prevent this from occurring.
  • If you have an allergy to certain medications, it could cause an adverse reaction. These medications could include the sedatives you’ll be given for the endoscopy. These drugs may also conflict with other medications. This is why you need to inform your doctor of any medications you’re on.
  • There may be bleeding if a biopsy is performed or if polyps were removed. Bleeding is typically minor, however, and can be remedied easily enough.
  • A tear can occur in the area being examined. The odds of this happening are very slim, however. 

The night before

You’ll need to refrain from food or drink after midnight the night prior to your procedure. This includes mints or gums. You can typically have clear liquids up to six hours before the procedure, however, if it’s scheduled for the afternoon. These include:

  • Apple juice
  • Clear soda
  • Coffee with cream
  • Broth
  • Water

Avoid drinking anything orange or red.

Bring any paperwork requested by your doctor along with you, such as your consent form. Fill in the forms on the night before your procedure, and place them with your belongings so you don’t forget them.

One other thing to do on the night before is to arrange a ride home. You’ll probably be given a sedative and a narcotic during the procedure. You shouldn’t drive afterwards, as you will feel drowsy. Arrange for a friend or family member to meet you and take you home. Some medical centers won’t even allow the procedure to take place unless you make plans for a ride home in advance.

Wear comfortable clothing

While you’ll be administered medication in order to help you feel relaxed. You may still feel some discomfort from the procedure. So wear comfortable clothing and avoid wearing any jewelry. You’ll also need to remove dentures or glasses prior to the procedure.

Plan for recovery time

Your throat may give you a mild feeling of discomfort once the procedure is over, and it might be some time before the medication wears off. It would be a good idea to stay home from work for a while, and avoid making any serious decisions until you’re feeling back to normal.

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