Barium Swallow Test


Please describe your experience with barium swallow. Submit Your Comment

Comment from: Little Woman , 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: September 28

I had barium swallow and meal. All went well at the appointment, and that was Friday morning. Since then, stools have been light in color and not flushing. Two days now, and my tummy is uncomfortable. Hope it clears soon. But I would do it again if needed.

Comment from: Lisa, 75 or over Female (Patient) Published: September 28

I am 80 years of age and had no problems with barium swallow. But afterwards, for 4 days, I had chalky white balls when passing stools. I realized I wasn’t drinking enough water to clear it out. So hopefully, drinking more water will clear it out.

Comment from: Mary, 75 or over Female (Patient) Published: August 27

I had a CAT scan with contrast, because I have been having nausea, belching, and stomach pain after barium swallow. I used Pepcid and Zofran, and this has been going on for 3 weeks. No more barium for me.

Comment from: Gigi, 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: August 17

I had a barium swallow today at 10 am. They gave me the crushed up barium first (very unpleasant) and a cup of water. Then I stood next to the x-ray machine and the radiologist asked me to take a sip of the liquid barium, then swallow (repeat a few times), and then the pill last. It took 30 minutes, altogether, less time than I thought it would. Afterwards, I drank a bottle of apple juice, had a banana, and ate some more. Stool is regular and I no longer have the grainy barium in my throat.

Comment from: Becca, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: August 05

Overall my barium swallow test went well and was tolerable. The hardest part was having to turn and rotate on the hard table, because of my scoliosis. About 5 hours after the test, I got kind of dizzy and I have some upper abdominal bloating and shortness of breath, which is what I got the test for anyways, just seems a little worse. I’ve had 1 other x-ray and 2 CT scans in addition to the fluoroscopy in the last 6 months. I feel a little shaky and weak, but any weird chemical in our bodies is bound to affect us somehow.

Comment from: L pellew, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: July 28

The barium swallow itself wasn’t bad. Three days later, after passing white stools for three days, I have the worst pains I’ve ever had in my stomach and intestines. This was enough to make me almost pass out. I was constipated beyond belief and the barium was so hard to pass as it hardened up. I woke on my third day, trying to use the bathroom while I was profusely sweating. The pain was horrible. Just made it to my bed or I would have been on the floor. Seriously, only do this test if absolutely needed.

Comment from: Tucson Jim, 65-74 Male (Patient) Published: July 12

I just had my barium swallow today. The procedure is done standing up, you keep your street clothes on the whole time, and it takes about 10-15 minutes for an upper GI (gastrointestinal) series. The thick liquid you drink wasn’t bad at all, just like a vanilla milk shake without the vanilla or sugar and at room temperature. I’m home now, no stomach ache or other problems so far. Piece of cake.

Comment from: Sara, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: June 16

I had an upper gastrointestinal (GI) and small bowel follow through study today at 9 am. I am having complications from an open RNY gastric bypass in 2005 (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth [SIBO], adhesions, intussusception). No fizzy stuff due to my changed anatomy. Barium went down fine, pictures were easy. Then it got to the descending colon and stopped. It took until 1 pm to get it moved enough. It's 10 pm now, small normal bowel movement, but the foulest gas I've ever had.

Comment from: spexy, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: June 14

I had barium swallow for upper gastrointestinal test at 11:30 AM. Two chalky drinks, one thick/one thin, not as bad as feared. I was told to drink lots of water. I went back to work, no worries. About 5 PM, I noticed lower right abdominal pain. Figured it was gas. Now 8 PM, and cramping has got steadily worse, bad especially when I stand up from sitting, or bend over. They didn’t say a word about what to do if I experience pain, so don’t know if it's normal or something is terribly wrong. Waiting for the doctor to call me back now.

Comment from: Alice, 75 or over Female (Patient) Published: June 01

I drank the 1st bottle of barium. A half hour later, I had diarrhea. I took Imodium, can't risk drinking the second bottle and walking in to the hospital for test. I believe the drink should be given in hospital near a bathroom.


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Comment from: Dee, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: May 24

I had a barium swallow two days ago. I noticed while drinking the barium that my throat started burning a little, then it became sore. The next day, I was having problems swallowing and my throat was sore and very red. It has been 2 days since the study, my throat is very red and continues to hurt and burn, my ears are burning too and my throat glands are very swollen and painful. I will be calling doctor today!

Comment from: Tara , 35-44 Male (Patient) Published: April 23

I have just come out from having a barium swallow and was really concerned going in, after reading various comments beforehand. The test itself was absolutely fine. The drink that I had to swallow was not as thick as I expected and I was given a small amount which I was asked to swallow as they took the X-ray. I had to do this 4 times in total but only had to swallow a small amount on each occasion. Please don't be put off having this procedure. The benefits far outweigh everything else.

Comment from: mzalleman, 75 or over Female (Patient) Published: October 08

I took the barium swallow test at 8:00 in the morning for a small bowel follow through. Minutes later I had severe abdominal pain. I felt like passing out and lay down on the dressing room floor. I was moved to the imaging table so I could lie down. The pain continued for over 2 hours. X-rays were taken every hour until 4:00 PM. When leaving the hospital I was feeling okay. Now at home I have a great deal of pain and bloating. Seems like it affects everyone differently.

Comment from: Patric, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: October 06

At 8 AM this morning I had a barium swallow. It was as pleasant a procedure as could be expected. I had this procedure one year ago and had no ill effects afterwards. But today my stomach was so full of fluid that I began hurting before I got back in the car. I know it was from the seltzer they gave me during the procedure, which is why my stomach became so big. But I have been having severe pain in my right side since I got home. If I lie down and prop a pillow under my left side the pain Is tolerable.

Comment from: Gill, 75 or over Female (Patient) Published: October 06

I had no information about what to expect after the barium swallow. Everything I've read since says you get light stools, and possible constipation. I've had liquid dark motions for two days accompanied by stomach pain. Wondering how long this will last.

Comment from: CMPryor, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: September 30

I had the barium swallow test this morning. The drink was fine, had the barium soaked marshmallow too. I made it home (thank goodness). About two hours after the test I had the sudden urge to go to the bathroom with no control over bowel movements. This continued for about an hour. Then on and off for the rest of the day. I am very gassy and my stomach is making a huge assortment of noises. I’ve followed other people’s advice and kept up my fluid intake. Felt fine the whole time, not unwell.

Comment from: Kimberly, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: September 23

I completed my barium swallow this morning. They said it went fast and I was prepared for three hours. I was done in a little over an hour. I left immediately and drove six miles home. In this amount of time, the barium made it through my entire system and came out looking just like it did going down. White Liquid... wish I had been warned that may happen. I was told to drink lots of fluids to prevent constipation. My experience was the opposite. I’ll keep drinking fluids to prevent dehydration.

Comment from: Paula, 55-64 (Patient) Published: September 22

Never had an issue with barium swallow and have had the test several times. However this last time I woke up with severe cramping the morning after I had drunk it. I could hardly move. I don’t think I’ve ever had so much stomach pain. Doctor said it was probably because I had recently had surgery to remove a tumor in my pancreas. I read somewhere to take Gas-X. It started working right away and I felt much better within 30 minutes.

Comment from: Thrilled 1, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: September 17

Being obese and severely asthmatic with a flare up from that poor air quality from the fires, barium swallow was a bit of a challenge. They worked very well within my limitations. I was unable to swallow the fizzy drink and unable to lie flat for long. They were able to move the table and me to get it done. I think they found a stricture, as at one point the doctor said it wasn't going down at all. That was when I tried to chug the thick drink. The thin drink and the oil were ok. I was happy we got it done!

Comment from: Blessed Mommy, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: September 01

I just had a barium swallow at 10:30 this morning and the worst part was the taste of the barium sulfate. I was a little nauseous after but not too bad. I'm not experiencing any constipation but the opposite. Hopefully it doesn't last long but it's better than the alternative I suppose.

Comment from: Susieq, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: August 07

I had a barium swallow at 2 pm yesterday. It tasted ok. I stood on a machine and moved around when asked. I had lemonade to cause bloat, followed by a marshmallow mixed with barium drink. I was in and out 20 minutes. Today I drank water to prevent constipation as advised. Felt ok till half hour ago, 30 hours after barium swallow. I passed stool in my pants! I am mortified! Lucky I was sitting in the garden. Now I am stuck by the toilet. I wasn’t warned about this.

Comment from: 23lb, 65-74 Male (Patient) Published: July 24

I drank lots of liquids after the barium swallow but did not have the anticipated constipation. Quite the opposite. Severe diarrhea and abdominal distension for 2 days and nights afterward.

Comment from: Stella, 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: July 17

I just got fluoroscopy with barium swallow today, at 8:30 A.m. The procedure was fine. However, after drinking the barium my stomach has been upset and bloated. I've suffered some pain in my stomach and my back as well. Hope that I will get well soon.

Comment from: Ceebee52, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: June 04

My barium swallow test went very well. I couldn't really taste anything bad in any of the foods and beverages I had to consume. We found out some important factors in my swallowing process, and a tentative diagnosis for my long-term and very pronounced hoarse voice. Later that evening, I did have a mild upset stomach, and an intense episode of night sweats. Still, I would do it again if I needed to. It only lasted about 20 minutes and seeing the resulting x-rays/fluoroscopic images was fascinating.

Comment from: Junebugjon, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: April 23

I had my barium swallow test in 4 parts... thick liquid barium, not too bad; shredded turkey and barium paste mixture, horrible; fizzy liquid mixed in barium, not bad, and a pill to swallow. It’s been about 24 hours now and I’ve been nauseous and gassy the whole time. I had my first bowel movement just now. Make sure you drink a lot of water after. It helps!

Comment from: Lis B., 75 or over Female (Patient) Published: March 16

Reading reviews of the barium swallow procedure I almost cancelled. Glad I didn't. The barium swallow was thick but not objectionable. The whole thing was done in 15 minutes. Now, 5 days later, happy to report no side effects ever, no constipation. Doctors were great. It was totally worth it.

Comment from: Drsunny, 75 or over Female (Patient) Published: March 09

After reading some of the reviews on barium swallow I came close to canceling the appointment. But I didn't. I was told it could take up to five hours, so I made sure to bring my phone and iPad and charger. I swallowed about 12 ounces of the barium mix. Okay, so it didn't taste like a strawberry shake but it was doable. They took a couple of x-rays and gave me another shake to drink. They took a couple more pictures and I was done. The one warning: drink a lot of liquids. I may float away, but I am drinking tons.

Comment from: Smiley, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: February 25

I had to have a defecation test which was awful, humiliating and not sure on results! I had to drink 3 huge cups of barium, almost threw it up half way through. Then you have to have 3 enema size doses injected in your buttock and as a female, a dose in my vagina. They gave me a young male radiologist to do the test... mortified! You sit in a high chair with a commode and have video on a screen watching yourself go to the bathroom. After 3 days and 3 laxatives finally moving some of the barium out.

Comment from: Susan C, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: February 05

The actual process of barium swallow, while uncomfortable, was pretty easy. But 7 days later I am still constipated and have yet to pass stools like the description they gave of gray to light brown. I’ve kept a 24 oz water with me and drink 3 or 4 of these daily. I’ve taken extra fiber and my probiotics, yet nothing! Little nuggets are it. I feel full and bloated as soon as I start eating which was one of the symptoms that brought me to this time/place. On the plus side the radiologist saw nothing of concern. Stool softener, perhaps.

Comment from: Kim, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: January 30

I had an upper gastrointestinal test, a barium swallow done at 9 AM. It’s been 6 hours and now having a lot of stomach pain and cramping.

Comment from: GM. , 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: December 18

The barium swallow test itself was not bad but abdominal pain woke me up that night. It was bad enough I couldn’t sleep. By the morning I was in severe pain. I used an enema and had some relief but I was still in pain with nausea. Should have gone to the emergency room. Never ever experienced that severe a pain which lasted several hours. Warnings should come with this test. Never again. Now I have a bladder infection. Everyone should report their adverse reactions to the adverse event FDA website.

Comment from: Flux, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: October 15

An hour after my barium swallow, I started having severe stomach and abdominal pain. It was extremely painful to urinate. It felt like I needed to move my bowels. I did and the pain was extreme. I had my test at 1:30 and was in so much pain, I went to bed at 10:00 p.m. With a heating pad. The next morning the pain had subsided, but my abdomen is very tender and sore upon bending. Not a good experience. I took a colon cleanse in hopes of eliminating the barium completely.

Comment from: Grammy , 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: October 04

I had barium swallow test this morning 11:00. Never again will I do this test again! I have severe stomach pain with a little chest discomfort.

Comment from: Grandma , 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: October 03

I had the barium swallow test this morning, will never do this again! I developed severe abdominal pain along with bloating, right after the test. Not sure if I can handle this. I maybe going to the emergency room.

Comment from: Sydney, 19-24 Female (Patient) Published: September 10

I would not recommend a barium swallow to anyone with serious stomach issues; which sounds contradictory considering it is a diagnostic tool for such problems. Despite my concern over how my stomach would react, I went ahead with it anyway and experienced uncontrollable vomiting for several days. I had to go to the emergency room due to fluid loss and inability to hold water down. I highly recommend an endoscopy instead; no one who is already sick should have to experience what I did after a barium swallow.

Comment from: MJ, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: September 04

I had my stomach x-ray today. Less than 3 hours passed after swallowing barium I had watery stools, a few times with chalk color. A bit of stomach cramps and the urge to pass motion is a bit uncontrollable. I hope these side effects won’t last after a day.

Comment from: L.is4, 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: August 02

My barium swallow was yesterday to find out why upper abdomen is burning so bad and why it is hard to swallow my food (I choke even on water). Anyhow, it seems to have given me my period early, with intense cramps. My period isn’t due for another week and half. I'm not pregnant (haven’t been active in months).

Comment from: Chillyjester, 65-74 Female (Caregiver) Published: July 11

My wife is right now having a barium swallow test. Luckily before we left the house the hospital called and verified her appointment. Before hanging up I asked about not being able to eat and was told that there is no preparation for this test. My wife is a diabetic and not eating at breakfast can be dangerous.

Comment from: Tessa, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: July 10

After reading some of the comments on here I didn’t want to have the barium swallow done. However, I went and I have to say I would have another one done if needed too as it really wasn’t bad at all. You only have to swallow a very little amount a few times and if you chew it, it goes down quite easy. No pain, no discomfort at all and bowels working fine apart from the fact that the bowel movement is a sandy color, but all in all no problems at all.

Comment from: Jennifer , 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: June 18

My barium swallow test was great. I didn’t feel sick or have any stomach upset. It’s very fast and you are in and out! It’s really very little liquid you drink. No one should be nervous to take this test!

Comment from: anna, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: June 04

I am one of the few people who thinks the barium tastes fine. I think it tastes like a weird milkshake. Once I had diarrhea after a barium swallow. I do not even see it come out in my stools.

Comment from: LoriO, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: May 22

I had the barium swallow this morning about 10:30. I had brunch at noon. Now, at 3:50, I'm experiencing cramping, especially on my right side, and lots of gurgling in my stomach. I'm 9 years out from my gastric bypass surgery. I am drinking water, but intend to drink more to see if cramping subsides. I will post update later.

Comment from: Johnny, 45-54 Male (Patient) Published: May 21

When I had a barium swallow back in the 80s, it was awful. It tasted terrible. It tasted like chalk and paint. I was gagging through the whole process.

Comment from: Ptk1321, 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: April 30

To anyone reading this: don’t let the negative comments scared you from this. I was TERRIFIED to do the barium swallow after reading all of these reviews. I’m starting to think half of these people don’t follow the aftercare procedures. It was quick and easy and I had zero side effects. After the procedure I went straight home and drank a lot of water and ate a lot of fruits and veggies throughout the day. I even went to the gym afterwards. I drank over 4 liters of water.

Comment from: cjox3, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: April 03

The barium swallow test itself was not bad. The after effects are what got me. I was not told about the possibility of pain, just to drink plenty of fluids to prevent constipation. My test was 4 days ago and I finally started feeling better around 11 am. Severe stomach pains and cramps, couldn't pass gas and felt nauseous. Finally started passing gas with a lot of mucus this morning. Lasted a few hours before I finally felt better. I will not go through this again.

Comment from: Sherry, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: March 19

The day after my barium swallow test I started to throw up constantly. It is day 3 now and I still have constant diarrhea. I will never do it again. Results showed nothing anyway.

Comment from: Mike B, 25-34 Male (Patient) Published: March 05

It is 13 days after my barium swallow and I'm still backed up. Six days out I had what seems like an impaction. I was only barely able to clear out after several hours of struggling. Eight days out I experienced the worst searing, stabbing pain ever. My stool had apparently pressed against my urethra and bent it. The emergency room nurse couldn't even get a catheter in. That resolved after a day or two. Now on day 13, I still have a bunch of the stuff in my system, and can't even pass water after a Senokot. This is terrible.

Comment from: sm1l3y, 25-34 Male (Patient) Published: February 04

The barium swallow test was a piece of cake! You start by standing up against the x-ray machine, and then the doctor hands you a little shot glass of water. Basically he pours in these crystals in it and you immediately need to drink it down. It tasted like Sprite to me, it does make you want to burp immediately, but you have to swallow when you get the urge. You then drink this chalky stuff (tasted like Pepto-Bismol) while the x-ray machine takes pictures and you later swallow a pill and get elevated.

Comment from: Colgar, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: October 22

Someone said their blood sugar went up with barium swallow, but mine dropped really low (I'm a diabetic). I was extremely nauseous and felt like vomiting all day. I got a sore throat. I didn't think the 3 things I had to swallow tasted bad, but after them rolling me side to side, I thought I was going to vomit. I drank a ton of water right away and it started clearing through my system right away. The key is to drink a lot of water!

Comment from: Elizabeth, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: August 07

I had the barium drink between 9:30 and 10:30 am and started having abdominal pain at 2:00 pm. The pain became severe and remained so until 9:00 pm. Then the pain lessened, but continued until noon the next day. The test was not difficult or painful. I was asked to stand in front of a padded bed with the x-ray screen positioned in front of me. X-rays were taken prior to drinking the barium drink and throughout the process. I was asked to turn sideways, then drink while lying down, turned sideways. The barium drink and seltzer drink were easy to swallow.

Comment from: Patsy, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: July 10

The barium swallow testing was actually better than I had anticipated. The liquid barium didn't taste bad. And it only took about 30 minutes. I've had no side effects.

Comment from: Carol Wilson, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: June 19

The barium itself was fine. About a week later I have lower back pain going round to my upper thighs and legs. I have pain in my lower stomachs and feel tired. As I have osteoporosis my doctor sent me for an x-ray and the barium is still showing g up on the x-ray. I wonder if this can be dangerous, I am drinking loads of water.

Comment from: hurting more now, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: April 27

I had the barium swallow test this morning. I will never do it again. After taking the fizzy mix I was told I didn't drink fast enough and she gave it to me again. I could not finish that part of test and wanted to throw up, it’s been 4 hours and my stomach hurts terribly. Not worth it.

Comment from: GenaBaby, 55-64 (Patient) Published: January 26

I just had a barium swallow test. The test was not as bad as I had expected (thankfully). It only lasted approximately 30 minutes. I was fine after the test and the fizz and barium were not so bad. The fizz drink had a nice lime taste. The barium was not bad either. However I was in a lot of abdominal pain about 5 hours after. It hurt to push down to urinate; really bad. It hurt to bend over, again really bad. I took sleeping pills and finally went to sleep. The next day I got up and felt really good; until I ate quiche. About 20 minutes after I ate the pain returned. I took 2 Nexium tablets and the pain subsided a bit. That's where I am at now. I'm thinking about calling my doctor.

Comment from: Se, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: January 02

I had a barium swallow. The fizzy stuff made me really sick. Seriously considered throwing up a few times and the barium on top of the fizzy didn't help. I felt better a couple hours later, but later that night I had a lot of trouble with fullness in my stomach that was really uncomfortable. I drank a lot of water and took Dulcolax and milk of magnesia later as I was afraid I'd get constipated, which continued even 24 hours after the test. My stools were rock hard and painful to pass. Now I'll probably have hemorrhoids. Over all, I'm not sure it was worth what I'm going through now.

Comment from: tiptip, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: November 13

I hated the barium swallow test. The barium is like drinking chalk. I had to drink something like a seltzer first. You want to burp badly but technician told me to hold it in. Boy, was that hard! When the doctor comes in he tells you when to drink the barium and he takes x-ray. The last part was uncomfortable. The table tilted and the technician held a cup with a straw with the barium in it. She put the straw in my mouth and I had to suck. That was hard because I felt like I was sucking air. After it was over I had chalk all over my mouth and I let out a big burp. It's over. So if you do the test I hope you have a nicer doctor than I had.

Comment from: NEVERAGAIN, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: June 01

You don’t know if you are allergic to it until the barium swallow is over. The barium burned my stomach lining and now I have issues months later. This is uncalled for, it wasn’t a necessary procedure and still no results.

Comment from: SUE, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: March 18

I had a barium swallow last week. The test took about 15 minutes and was painless. The drink didn’t taste as bad as I thought it would and I didn’t feel sick afterwards. The worst thing was the constipation which lasted for a week so I would just advise anybody to have something in place from the pharmacy to help with the constipation.

Comment from: Sandy, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: February 23

I had a barium swallow and that night stomach pain on the right side. Two days later the pain is so severe with constipation. They should tell you what could happen and give you follow up on what to do. There is still barium in my stool. The pain is like pancreatitis. Hopefully it will go away in the morning. Of course tomorrow it is Sunday and no doctor appointments will be available. So emergency room is my only alternative.

Comment from: Vegas Guy, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: May 05

I was apprehensive about the taste of barium swallow, but it was vanilla shake flavored and not unpleasant at all.

Comment from: Sean, 35-44 Male (Caregiver) Published: October 23

My son had the barium swallow test and it took 6 hours to go through! It indicates to me a problem, but doctors don't seem concerned. My son is 39 and barely eats as he never feels hungry. Just even water fills him up.

Comment from: T1, 25-34 Male (Patient) Published: June 17

The barium swallow test made me laugh all day. I think barium brings happiness or some kind of unexpected feeling of joy.

Comment from: Jewels, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: June 02

I am having a barium swallow this Monday and I am so scared.

Comment from: Mam maws 60, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: February 01

The barium swallow wasn't too bad, now don't get me wrong, it didn't taste like a milkshake or anything. I've had a hiatal hernia now for over 3 years, I may have to have surgery, not sure!

Comment from: renee, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: October 20

Along with the barium I had to swallow things that were like Pop Rocks. They fizz when taken with barium. Six hours later I was vomiting and had diarrhea and I was sweating profusely. They said I should go to the ER but I was too sick to get off the floor. I finally got to the ER and they did an X-ray on my stomach. There were still signs of barium in my stomach the doctors suggested I do an enema and a laxative. I will never do this again because I was so sick from it.

Comment from: wbrr, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: October 06

The barium swallow went well enough, however, I did not get constipation. Quite the reverse, 3 days of intermittent diarrhea. Took immodium on second day and simethicone for gas.

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