It's common to feel bloated or have stomach cramps after an endoscopic examination of your large bowel. It's also normal to see some bleeding from your bottom. This guidance should help you to care for yourself after your colonoscopy and understand what to do if there's a problem.
You will be able to leave hospital when the doctor or nurse looking after you says you are well enough. You will have to wait at least an hour if you have sedation.
The sedation lasts longer than you may think, so in the first 24 hours after your examination you should not:
- drive or ride a bicycle or car
- operate machinery or do anything requiring skill or judgement
- drink alcohol
- take sleeping tablets
- sign legal documents, make any important decisions, or sign contracts
If you have had sedation you will need someone to escort you home and we advise that they stay with you for 24 hours.
We will give you a copy of your report and send a copy to your GP the day after your procedure. However, many GPs may not have this report on their system for about 10 days to 2 weeks after your procedure.
After leaving hospital
If you had sedation you should rest at home following your procedure and should be able to carry out your normal activities 24 hours after the test.
If polyps are removed or biopsies are taken during the procedure you may notice a small amount of bleeding from your bowel when you next visit the toilet. This is normal and should settle within 24 hours.
You can take your other prescription drugs.
If you have any bloating or abdominal discomfort this may be from the air that was put into your bowel by the endoscopist during the examination. This is normal and should settle within 24 hours.
If your discomfort doesn’t settle, try to pass wind. You can try to move about and change position to help settle the air in your bowel. You can also try warm drinks, or peppermint water (sold over the counter at most pharmacies) or peppermint tea.
If you have a problem
It is normal to see traces of blood from your back passage if:
- you had polyps removed during the examination
- you had biopsies taken during the examination
- you have some haemorrhoids that have been irritated
Blood clots or large amounts of blood are not normal so your GP or call the endoscopy department if you have any questions or concerns.
Contact your GP or go to your nearest emergency department (A&E) if:
- you have severe, persistent or worsening tummy pain
- you have a fever (temperature above 37.5⁰c)
- you have black or red poo (known as melaena)
- you are unable to stop being sick.
- you have difficulty breathing or are becoming breathless
You should take your endoscopy report with you.
Resource number: 5063/VER2
Published date: June 2022
Review date: June 2025