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Can I Drink Coffee Before A Colonoscopy?

Under Certain Circumstances, You May Be Allowed A Cup Of Black Coffee


Updated June 04, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.


If you're having a colonoscopy, are you allowed to have your morning cup of coffee?

Photo © markuso

Question: Can I Drink Coffee Before A Colonoscopy?

A colonoscopy is a test that is used to see inside the colon. It's commonly done in people over the age of 50 in order to screen for colon and rectal cancer, but it's also used to diagnose many other digestive diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis).

Answer: During this test, a tube with a light on the end is inserted into the colon. In order to see the colon walls, the large intestine must be free of fecal matter. Clearing the stool from the colon is commonly done with a combination of laxatives and enemas. Coffee (without any milk products) may be permitted only several hours before the colonoscopy. This means that in order to drink a cup of coffee in the morning, the test would need to be scheduled in the late morning or the early afternoon. For a colonoscopy that is scheduled in the morning, there may not be enough time between that morning cup of coffee and the test, so skipping it altogether would be recommended. Check with your doctor if you have any questions about your prep.

Check Your Prep Instructions

Fasting is also a component of the preparation for a colonoscopy. The duration of the fast will depend on several factors, such as the time of the actual test. In many cases, colonoscopies are done in the morning in order to avoid having patients fasting all day long before their test.

Every physician will have their own colonoscopy prep instructions, which should be followed closely. The day before the test is generally devoted to prepping, and in most cases, patients are advised to follow a clear liquid diet starting in the late afternoon. Clear liquids include water, tea, coffee, ginger ale, 7-Up or Sprite, apple juice, and white grape juice. Sugar, honey, or artificial sweeteners are generally allowed in tea or coffee, but check with your doctor to be sure.

Food And Drink Not Allowed

What is not allowed prior to a colonoscopy is milk, soy milk, creamer, or any other dairy product. These should not be taken in coffee or tea before a colonoscopy. Depending on the time of the test, even clear liquids must be discontinued a few hours prior to the colonoscopy. For a morning test, a morning cup of coffee may not be allowed (check the prep instructions or call the doctor's office if the instructions are unclear). For an afternoon test, a morning cup of coffee might be permitted (again, without any dairy products), but could be limited to just one cup, and only several hours before the test.

If there is any doubt about the prep instructions, check with the physician's office. Accidentally eating or drinking something too close to test time could affect the results, and possibly require a second test to be done (and therefore, a second prep).


Espat A. "Ensure Success with Colonoscopy Prep." MD Anderson Cancer Center. Mar 2010. 6 May 2013.

Setter T. "Todd’s Six-Day Colonoscopy Prep Guide." Colon Cancer Alliance. 2013. 6 May 2013.


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