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Tips for surviving your first PillCam

It might seem like a daunting experience at first, but this exciting piece of technology can help monitor your Crohn’s disease more effectively.

By Jenna Farmer

Although inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) isn’t a new condition, the scientific developments surrounding it are constantly changing.

Along with new treatments, new procedures have also been created to help with the diagnostic and monitoring process of IBD patients.

One of these is a PillCam, a nifty piece of technology that’s particularly useful for those of us with small bowel Crohn’s disease.

A PillCam is a small, pill-sized device that has a built-in camera. After you swallow it and it reaches your small bowel, it begins taking photos. This used to be a hard-to-monitor area of the digestive tract, given its location (a colonoscopy can’t reach that high).

This procedure is called a capsule endoscopy. Not only is it a fascinating procedure, but it’s also much less invasive than other diagnostic methods, such as a colonoscopy. Most people can go about their day after swallowing the “pill.”

Capsule endoscopy isn’t universally used for IBD patients, however. At the moment, it’s more useful for those with Crohn’s in the small bowel as opposed to the large bowel. It’s also hospital-dependent, as not all hospitals offer the PillCam as a standard procedure.

After undergoing my first PillCam in September, I thought I’d share my top tips for getting through it if you’re about to have one, too.

You’ll still need to follow a special diet

One of the biggest drawbacks of a regular colonoscopy is the fact you need to prep and follow a special diet beforehand.

With a PillCam, you’ll still need to do this. Some hospitals ask you to prep by drinking a special liquid, while others just ask you to eat a plain, low fiber diet for a few days.

Check your hospital’s requirements and make sure you stick to them, as it could affect the visibility of the camera.

Don’t overthink swallowing the pill

One of the biggest worries people have about a PillCam is actually swallowing it.

I’ll be honest, the PillCam is a bit bigger than your average pill, but my nurse encouraged me not to think about it and just swallow. She also reminded me that I eat bigger pieces of food every day.

So grab a glass and do your best to swallow without thinking about the fact that you’re actually digesting a tiny camera.

I promise it will only take a second, and it’s nothing to be afraid of.

Read more 9 Tips for Surviving Your First PillCam.

Posted on: January 25 2021

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