The most unpleasant thing about bowel preparation is the taste of the bowel prep agents. Adverse events are generally rare except for the intended effect-diarrhea. The table below provides a list of possible adverse events, frequency of occurrence and what to do if they occur. This list is by no means exhaustive. Read the package label and speak to your provider about adverse events.

Adverse EventFrequencyWhat To Do
  • Wear comfortable easy-to-remove clothes.

  • Stay close to the restroom.

  • Keep hydrated

  • Drink fluids.

Anal irritationCommon
  • Use soft toilet paper or baby wipes.

  • Apply Vaseline or Desitin® ointment or any baby diaper ointment to the skin around the anus.

Abdominal cramps ± distentionCommon
  • Usually self-limiting

  • Keep hydrated. Drink fluids.

  • If severe or persists, call your provider.

Nausea ± vomitingCommon
  • Wait 30 minutes before drinking more purgative.

  • Restart with small sips.

  • If problem persists, call your provider.

  • An antiemetic may be needed.

Flare of hemorrhoidsUncommon
  • Use hemorrhoidal creams.

  • Consider sitz bath after each stool.

  • Seizures

  • Dizziness

  • Arrhythmias

  • Electrolyte imbalance

  • Renal impairment

  • RareContact your provider immediately


    Don’t be a poor prep