I've had IBS symptoms since January and have had several appointmentswith local GP's.  I've had blood tests carried out and nothing much shows up so it's been decided I have to have a colonoscopy.  My problem is I am very, very allergic/intolerent to the potions (picolax/moviprep).  I have a violent and chronic reaction which is absolutely horrendous.  It's much worse than most people experience.  The last time I had to take the prep. I lost so much fluid with diahorrea and vomiting that I was very nearly unconscious.  It gave me a severe migraine because I  got so dehydrated which just about finished me off.  I cannot properly describe how terrible it was as it's just too graphic but please try and imagine the worst case senario!.  I was prostate on the bathroom floor with my head on the landing just about out cold, I was really ill. 

I am now really very worried about having this procedure done again knowing that I have to go through  all of the above yet again.  I have read that it can be dangerious to take this type of medication if you are sensitive to it but nobody seems to understands what it does to me.  If I don't have it done it seems that nothing else can show up what is wrong with me.  The Gastroenterologist I saw was really very nice but he just didn't seem to understand what I have to go through.  Has anybody else experienced this problem and if so how did you deal with it.  I feel I must be the only person to react like this.  Any comments or help would be greatly appreciated.  Many thanks for reading this.  Feeling quite desperate.

59 Replies

  • Hi,I've had a colononoscopy somtime ago,and I said I wouldn't have one again.

    There are other options,obviously I'm not a doctor,but a few weeks ago I seen a Colectrecal specialist who suggested another colonoscopy,but I refused, so he then suggested a colonography CTScan,which don't seem to bad.  I have been given a little bottle of somthing to drink,but nothing like the prep for a colonoscopy.

    My Gastroentrologist said this is a better test because it shows more.      The only thing I can suggest to you is don't go through anything your not happy with.  There are always options.   Take care.

  • Hi Gemini71, Thanks very much for taking the time to reply.  I had hoped for a CT Scan but these consultants always seem to want to do the colonoscopy as a first choice.  You were very brave to refuse.  I will have to really think about it all very carefully before I go either go ahead or cancel.  I much appreciate your comments and hope you get on on ok with your Colonography CT Scan.  Good luck and many thanks again.

  • No I wasn't brave. Try to look at it from a different angle,it's your body your health,and without people like you and me they would not have a job.    Be a bit more forceful,please don't suffer unnesaserily .

  • Thank you so much

  • I had an extreme reaction to the moviprep this time (a colonoscopy I had about 25 years ago was fine) but when I got to the room to have the procedure the consultant wouldn't do it because he said it had been booked too soon after my perforated bowel. He was able to book an appointment for a CT colonoscopy the next day. I was given the innocent looking little bottle but without a leaflet. Soon after the first dose I felt as if hot water was flowing............quite a bit of bathroom was stained yellow (it contains dye). I am lucky to be able to move quickly or it could have been much worse - we have a new expensive mattress! 

    So be warned, my reaction was probably extreme because my bowels were already very empty and unhappy but make sure you read the leaflet 😱 

  • Now you've got me worried,are you saying it is a laxative,or not.

    There is no leaflet.

  • I phoned the x-ray dept because I was worried I was having an allergic reaction (it has iodine in) and was told Oh no, in that case you would be in A&E by now! Then they said it tells you on the bottle that it makes you go to the toilet, then looked and found it didn't, then said I should have had a leaflet.

    Anyway, yes it has a laxative effect and I guess like most laxatives it depends a bit on your sensitivity how much - I tend to be very sensitive.

    Good luck with your scan.

  • I can really sympathise with you as I have written a post about this as well. I had mine on 31st October and kept to the exact instructions. After drinking 1 litre the same happened to me.God I felt terrible, my head felt like it was going to explode. I was sick for 4 days after, I am sure the prep (drain cleaner) poisoned my stomach.

    The thought of trying another one terrifies me as well.

  • I am so sorry to hear you had a horrible reaction to the colonoscopy prep. It really is strong stuff and doesn't suit everybody. I think you are quite right, it is like a poison to some people who are allergic to it. Also it cannot do our stomachs any good to have such violent medication pumped through us, it must scar the lining of our intestines. I bet the gastroenterologists have never had to take it if not they would understand, they are very good at dishing it out though! I really wish I could offer you some help. I am still struggling along since January with stomach pain and chronic upset stomachs. I am just taking buscapan and painkillers but that is not the answer. Perhaps you can have an ordinary CT Scan, I know they are not as good but it's a start. I am going to have an ultrasound in a few weeks time but they are not confident it will show up anything. Good luck.

  • Thanks for your lovely email. So glad there are people like you on this site.

    I keep my IBS pain at bay by taking a slippery elm tablet and a probiotic daily.It also stops the D and makes a nearly normal stool.

    The American Indians have used slippery elm for centuries.It is amazing stuff for lots of ailments. You should be able to get it in your Health Food Shop. Please try it ?

    Good luck xx

  • Hi Palynn, Thanks for your very kind reply. May I ask what sort of probiotic you are taking? I used to take Acidophillus Extra 10 but wondered if it was making the D worse so stopped taking it. Some are stronger than others I expect. Thanks for your information.

  • Hi,thanks for your reply. The product is Clinicians Flora Restore.Oral Probiotic for Women's Health. Have a look on

    Hope this helps

  • Hi Palynn, Thanks for sending details of the probiotic you are taking. I have looked on the website but think this particular item is not available here in the UK as far as I can see. I'm sure I will be able to find another sort to take. Many thanks again for your help.

  • Hinthey suggested this for me but I'm not sure as the colonoscopy was stopped mostly due to the air getting trapped in the pockets caused by diverticulitis I couldn't stand the pain so can't imagine keeping still in ct with air in

  • There are options

    There is a restricted diet for five days ending in clear liquid like broth and jelly for 72hrs then a strong limited dose laxative Google it

    Been there ,threw it all up and horrible cramps

    Waiting to see if I can get the scan as Thank God am not urgent just check up


  • Thanks so much for your reply.  I'm so glad I'm not alone as I seem to be the only one I know who has such a horrific reaction.

  • Even with a CT colonography you will still have to take a laxative beforehand.

  • I had a look online about the CT colonography and it's the laxative that's the problem as it contains Aspartame which I am so allergic too.  Just can't seem to win.  Thanks for your comments.

  • Pump,the laxative you take before a colonography is actually more a dye.  It's called Gastrografin look it up on google. He has no mention of Aspartame.

  • Thanks Gemini71 for the info. about Gastrografin.  I've had a look on google and it doesn't look quite so potent as the Moviprep.  I think I'm going to try and get hold of my gastroenterologist and see if he will agree to do a CT Scan instead.  There must be others who cannot tolerate these awful preps.   Many thanks again for your help. Much appreciated.

  • Well in the notes I have for taking Gastrografin,they read if you don't open your bowels completely it don't really matter,that's why I thought it wasn't so much of a laxative.

    I think it's worth getting another appointment with your Gastrologist and just suggest a few options to him,and really express your concerns.    I had a few options wrote down,because I knew he was going to suggest a colonoscopy so I just said an outright no,and he come up with a colonography CT scan,so I let him think it was his suggestion. 

  • I've just been reading a bit more about "Gastrografin" and I can see where it says "drink the Gastrografin liquid to ensure that only a small amount of faecal material is present in your bowel at the time of the scan" - so it looks as if this prep. is not so abrasive as others perhaps.  I think you are right, I need to see my Gastroenterologist again and discuss all this further with him.  I did ask him whlst I was with him last week about a CT Scan and he said i would still have to take the prep.  I don't know if I can suggest the Gastrografin, I'll have to see how it goes.  I don't want him to leave me like this without finding out what's wrong.  I know they can do a straight CT Scan with no prep. but it doesn't show up so much but it did show up my diverticulitis the last time.  Thanks again for your help.

  • Pump,I think you'll find there's all sorts of different CT scans,I'm just referring to a colonography CT scan.  I was going to suggest a defecateing Proctrogram,if my consultant had not mentioned a colonography.  I think your best bet,is look up all different tests that would be beneficial to you,write them down and have a chat with your Gastrologist . The test I mentioned above is a MRI scan,there are also Barium test,where they just put the Barium up your bottom.  Just look what you can up.

    There's a lady on this forum I've learned a lot from, her name is Rosie,if she picks this up,or you can pick her up,she has lots of good advise.

  • The Gastrografin dyes anything that is not part of your body so it is 'highlighted' on the scan. That is why your bowels don't need to be 'washed'.

  • So would you say,Buffafly,that it is not a laxative,

  • Hi all. I had a CT colonography done in October and I had to take picolax the night before and on the morning as well then once I got there I had to take the gastrografin. So for a CT colonography I had to take both not either or .

    The picolax is to empty the bowels especially the large intestine and of course you are dehydrated and I calculated I had to go 12 times and it lasted for a couple of days afterwards . The gastrografin is different it has a bit of dye in it and you sip at it while in the waiting room before the procedure. To do a proper CT colonography with contrast they also have to inject you with a dye while you are about to have the procedure. I understood from the Gastroentergist that a CT colonography has the added benefit of seeing all the inside organs too. Like the liver, kidneys, adrenal glands and uterus etc... While with a colonoscopy you can only see the inside of the large intestines . 

    It's still uncomfortable as they have to inflate the bowels a bit during the procedure to see them properly but it's not as invasive as the colonoscopy. This procedure I was awake for . It does not last long and it does really givea good view of the whole abdomen . 

    Maybe not the small intestine but it's still good to have . For the small intestine I had to Have an MRI and this is when I had the moviprep. 

    I don't react well as I have lactose intolerance and all the sugars too cause a reaction with me but it's a necessary evil to go through . 

    Good luck in whatever procedure you end up having. And if you can try and get tested for SIBO and lactose intolerance and fructose malabsorption if you can as they are all related and could be indications of what's going wrong . 

    Regards . 

  • Hi,I only have to have 50mls of Gastrografin in the morning before the scan and another 50mls at 4-00pm the day before the scan, not on the day.

    I don't have to take anything else. On the day I was told yes they slightly inflate the bowel,inject more dye,and also inject some Buscupan,to try and keep the colon still.    I don't know why you had to take picolax as pump says,the bowel don't have to be completely empty.

  • I am glad that's all you have to take . For me I had to have a restricted diet for a couple of days and the picolax the night before at 6 pm and the morning of the procedure at 8 am then the gastrografin when I got there. The procedure was at 3 pm and because of all the above I was severely dehydrated so when they tried to inject the dye ( they failed on 4 attempts ) as my veins kept collapsing I only had to have the inflation device ) not fun 😉 ) and ended up with no dye or buscopan .

    I also questioned the picolax with the gastroenterologist and the nurse and they insisted. It was not fun for a few days . But I complied .

    Anyhow, if you don't have to take it then this is great . Good luck and keep us posted . 

    My results were clear only an issue with cysts on the liver then I had to have an MRI to check the small intestine this is when I took the moviprep and also had the dye injected as well as buscopan . It gives you a terrible headache but it clears fast enough . And moviprep was much easier for me to handle than the picolax but still not ideal . 


  • Gemini the Gastrografin is a laxative and an extremely effective one according to reports so be prepared !                                                             Good luck.

  • Bantam, where do you get these reports from,because I googled it and it just said its more of a dye.

    One thing baffles me,why a dye the day before? Any ideas.

  • If you Google " Is Gastrografin a laxative" you will get plenty of info about it having a laxative effect.

  • Bantam thanks,but I've just put a post on because I've just googled all about it,and to be honest with you,I'm pretty worried.

    I'm due to start the diet Thursday so I want to gather more info.

  • Gemini if you are worried call the CT unit for advice.

  • I have ulcerative colitis so need regular colonoscopy but I keep putting it off, I'm probably about 3 years overdue but I really can't face the awful prep. There are different prep solutions so maybe you just need to ask for one without aspartame.      Good luck, let us know how it goes.

  • Thanks for your reply.   I have read that people like me shouldn't really be taking this prep. if we are allergic to it because it can be dangerous.  I am seriously thinking of cancelling this colonoscopy.   I told the gastroenterologist I couldn't take Picolax and he has suggested Moviprep which is just as bad.  I really don't think they understand how bad my reaction is.  I cannot see why they cannot just do an ordinary CT Scan with no contrast medication and clearing the bowels out to start off with.  I had one once before and it showed up that I had diverticulitis.  Isn't it awful what we have to go through.  Thanks for your support.  Will let you know what happens.

  • Have you looked at Fleet prep ? 

  • Will have a look, thanks.

  • Do try the five day 72 hr restricted diet

    Fleet not always available ,can one get it online without a prescription?

  • Thanks for your help and advice.   I will have a look at the Fleet prep. ingredients.

  • Thank you Gemini, Buffafly, Maggiejemmima and Bantam for all your useful comments.  There's certainly a lot to think about for sure.  I am definitely going to get back to my Gastroenterologist before I go any further with any kind of procedure.  I need time to sort out what is really necessary.  I've still got some blood tests and a stool test result to come in so I'm going to see how they go.  I am grateful to you all for all the information you have given.  Obviously some of us are very allergic/sensitive/intolerant to some or all of the preps. It's a bit of a minefield but it's really nice to be able to discuss it all and share info.  I will keep in touch and let you know what my gastroenterologist comes back with.  Many thanks to you all.

  • Hi I have posted about this too, I managed 1 litre of moviprep and became quite ill I got very hot face went bright red and burning to touch , severe nausea and eventual vomit and uncontrollable shaking I rang 111 and didn't take anymore . Unit said I hadn't taken enough so didn't go in. Now they are suggesting picolax or going in as inpatient and.taking prep in there under observation ! Not sure not having own loo a good idea but like the idea of being kept an eye on with drugs available ?

  • How are you getting on "Purplewoman"? I've just read your post from 2 weeks ago and can see that the Moviprep didn't suit you at all. I took Picolax several years ago and had the same allergic effect, severe vomiting etc. just like you but I took the whole lot but it made me seriously ill so I won't be taking it again. These preps. contain strong phosphates and just don't suit some of us. I cannot describe what picolax did to me as it would be too graphic! My husband was amazing and cleared me up for hours. Look at the ingredients on the internet and see what you think. I think Moviprep would have just the same effect on me.

    I saw my gastroenterologist last Friday and he said he would do a Flexible Sigmoidoscopy which is not a full colonoscopy and he gave me a special diet sheet to cut out all solids for two days before the procedure and just drink clear soup, tea, coffee, bovril, fruit juices etc. I followed this and after the first day I had really bad diahorrea because the fluid just went straight through me. So I was emptied out before I got to the hospital. They gave me an enema when I got there and I then had the procedure done. I am hoping this might help. My stomach pain is lower down on the left side.

    I wonder if you could have a Flexible Sigmoidoscopy like I had without the prep. using the fluid diet for a couple of days and then have an enema when you get to hospital. It would be better than nothing.

    I really don't know how we are supposed to cope when we can't take this awful prep. stuff.

    If you do take the picolax and they take you into hospital and you vomit a lot and lose lots of fluid they will be able to give you some fluid to replace what you've lost. Also there are little wards in most hospitals with a bed and a loo beside the bed as they took me into one on Monday. They have to have them for people having enemas as most people would never make it down the corrider for sure!

    I really hope you find a way of having your examination done. I just wish there was an easier gentler way! Good luck

  • Thankyou for the reply I'm actually going in tomorrow to take prep as inpatient for colonoscopy on fri. No idea if I'm taking moviprep again or picolax I'm petrified and already running to loo at home! I asked for a side room and they said no I. Need to be in view of the nurses station in case I'm ill again and they will leave me a comode! I'm going to wear tenna pants!

  • I'm pleased you are going to go into hospital tomorrow and you will be taken care of for sure. Also if you are near the nurses station they will be able to monitor you. Tenna pants are a good idea if you are worried. Just think by Friday night it will be over. That's how i thought of it. I packed a bag to put in the car in case I had to stay overnight but didn't need to. As soon as the procedure was over I had a cup of tea and a sandwich and was allowed to come home. I will be thinking of you and hoping you get on all right. Please let us know how you get on. Wishing you good luck and take care.

  • Will they stop making me take it if I get ill or keep shoving it on me? So scared I hadn't known nausea and ill feeling since my chemo days 😒

  • I've been dairy and gluton free for 6 months to see if it makes any difference.not properly diagnosed intolerance but advised to try .i wonder if there is something in the prep that's got either of these in? How will I get from Ward to endoscopy unit if I'm sick and dizzy ?

  • Hi, just read both of your messages. Firstly if you do become poorly when you have taken some of the prep. I cannot imagine that they would encourage you to take any more especially if you choose not to. You can refuse if you feel you really can't go through with it. Please don't be afraid to say how you feel, there is no way they can force you and I really don't think that will happen so please don't worry about that. It really is your choice.

    I'm not sure about the ingredients of Moviprep or picolax but will have a quick look for you. Don't worry about how you will get from the ward to endoscopy if you feel sick or dizzy, I am sure they will wheel you out on a bed if necessary. I went to walk beside the nurse and she said, oh we will wheel you down so I went on a bed and was wheeled back on a bed afterwards. Please don't worry, they are all very kind and will take care of you, you will be well cared for. I'll just have a look at the prep. ingredients and get back to you. x

  • Hi again, I've just looked up the ingredients of Moviprep and Picolax.

    Moviprep contains: Sodium Sulfate, Sodium Chloride, Ascorbic Acid, Sodium Ascorbate, Aspartame (Sweetner).

    Picolax Contains: Sodium picosulfate, Magnesium Carbonate, Citric Acid- Anhydrone, Lemon Flavour, Acesulfame Potassium, Povidone, Silium dioxide.

    It doesn't look like there is anything gluten or dairy in the ingredients. I really wish I could be more helpful. I am just pleased that you will be in safe hands. I was at home and wished I could have been in hospital the last time so you will be in the very best place. Explain to the nurses your worries when you arrive and tell them about your problems so they know everything. Once again the very best of luck and it will soon all be over. xx

  • Thankyou for you help and kind words

  • How did you get on? I hope you managed to have the colonoscopy. I thought about you Thursday and yesterday and hope you are ok.

  • Hi thankyou for thinking of me

    Hospital and staff useless on Ward but that aside short version is picolax 60% better than moviprep. Though was still nipping to loo in endo unit! Sedation had no effect and 2 lots of pain killers didn't either. So they had to stop . It took 20 mins for pain to subside I had. Ever known anything like! In recovery they moved me side to side to release the wind

  • I'm so pleased it's all over for you now. I'm sorry the staff were useless, I thought they might be really helpful. It all sounds as if it was quite a painful experience one way and another but at least it's over now. You must feel so releived, I feel relieved for you knowing what I went through. Hope you are feeling more comfortable now.

  • I wish it was over I'm going to have to either try again or they might try the ct but that's air too

  • Oh dear, what a shame. They have talked to me about a CT Scan with a Contrast Dye but I didn't think I would react well to the Contrast Dye so just had an ordinary scan but it doesn't show up the detail so well. I didn't know they filled you full of air for the CT Scan as well. Please keep in touch and let us know how you get on. I am sorry you've got to go back again.

  • Well the only way they could do colonoscopy again is under a general. I've had the dye a few times before injected but I bit concerned some have to drink something for the ct! I would be worried about not needing the loo in scanner and embarrassing my self

  • Yes, I think they also request an empty bowel for the more indepth CT Scan so we will have to drink the wretched stuff again just for the scan. Did they say they would do a colonoscopy under general anesthetic?

  • No but there is no other way

  • Hi I've just been in and had picolax under observation in hospital overnight and it was barable this time as opposed to moviprep which did to me what it did to you! 'I havnt read th other replies yet but there are other preps available

  • I think I posted this on the wrong thread sorry!

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