Taking laxatives is an important step in preparing for a colonoscopy. Laxatives help empty the bowels so a doctor can examine the colon thoroughly. If a person forgets to take the laxative, they may need to reschedule the procedure.

Effective clearing of the bowels is important in preparing for a colonoscopy. It allows a doctor to properly examine the colon and avoid missing any symptoms or warning signs of disease.

Dulcolax is an over-the-counter (OTC) stool softener and laxative. Instead of OTC laxatives, a doctor will typically prescribe a laxative for bowel preparation. However, a person can use Dulcolax alongside the prescribed bowel preparation laxative.

Before taking OTC laxatives alongside the prescribed bowel preparation laxative, a person needs to speak with a doctor to ensure this is the best option for them.

It is important for people to follow the doctor’s instructions on taking bowel preparation medication.

This article explains the next steps to take if a person forgets to take their bowel preparation medication.

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There may be instances when people forget to take the laxative before a colonoscopy or are unable to complete the full preparation in time. In these situations, the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE) recommends contacting a doctor for advice.

If they cannot complete the necessary bowel preparation, they may need to cancel the colonoscopy and reschedule for another time.

When to reschedule the colonoscopy for

A healthcare professional will advise a suitable time for people to reschedule the colonoscopy.

People will need to allow enough time before a repeat colonoscopy to be able to complete all necessary bowel prep and fully clear the bowels.

Whether a person can take the laxative on the morning of the procedure depends on the bowel preparation medication a doctor has prescribed.

The ASGE states that bowel preparation involves taking a laxative medication orally. It usually comes in the form of a liquid, although it can also be a tablet or powder.

In most cases, a person will cleanse the colon with a split-bowel preparation. This means they will drink the first portion of the medication the evening before the colonoscopy.

They should then drink the second portion on the morning of the colonoscopy. This is usually 3–8 hours before the colonoscopy begins.

Those taking a single-dose preparation for a colonoscopy will need to take the medication the night before. If a person forgets to do this, they need to contact a doctor for further advice.

Learn more about colonoscopy prep drinks.

If the bowels are clear enough for a colonoscopy, any bowel movements will be a watery, yellow, or clear liquid that people are able to see through.

Laxatives may begin working straight away, but it is important to complete all of the colonoscopy prep, even if individuals already have light, liquid stools before completing the preparation.

The Colorectal Cancer Alliance advises the following in preparation for a colonoscopy:

  • Carefully read and follow any preparation instructions and timeline from a healthcare professional.
  • In the week before, make a meal plan of suitable foods, buy any necessary supplies, and stop any medications containing aspirin or ibuprofen.
  • Stop taking any supplements, including iron, fish oil, herbal remedies, and vitamins.
  • Stay well-hydrated.
  • Arrange someone to drive them to and from the appointment.
  • Prepare any necessary paperwork, such as medical forms.

One day before the procedure, people will need to:

  • Avoid all solid food and alcohol.
  • Take any necessary medications.
  • Follow all bowel prep instructions.
  • Drink clear liquids, such as apple or grape juice, electrolyte drinks, sodas, broth, coffee, or tea without dairy.
  • Avoid any red- or purple-colored flavors or drinks.
  • Avoid all dairy products, as well as orange, grapefruit, prune juice, or liquids people cannot see through.

On the day of the colonoscopy, people will need to avoid alcohol, illegal drugs, or any substances that alter their thought processes. They will also need to avoid driving or signing any legal documents until the day after the colonoscopy.

Learn more about how to prepare for a colonoscopy.

Dulcolax is an OTC laxative that a person may be able to take alongside a prescribed bowel preparation laxative.

Following the correct steps for bowel clearing allows a doctor to examine the colon thoroughly and reduces the need for repeat procedures.

If people forget to take the laxative before a colonoscopy, they will need to contact a doctor to see if the procedure can still go ahead. If they cannot fully clear the bowels, individuals may need to reschedule the colonoscopy.