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Author Topic: Anyone done a barium swallow?  (Read 620 times)

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Offline Hereismyusername

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Anyone done a barium swallow?
« on: December 27, 2012, 08:51:31 PM »
I think I might have an ulcer and my doc mentioned getting a barium swallow. Getting anything done at my gp's freaks me out. What can I expect during it? Is it quick?
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Offline Library girl

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Re: Anyone done a barium swallow?
« Reply #1 on: December 27, 2012, 09:44:36 PM »
I had one when I was little.  It's not a big deal! The stuff you have to drink tastes nasty, but you just drink it and then I got in this contraption which was like a standing MRI machine--only your stomach down to your feet are covered, so there was no claustrophobia.  You'll do fine :)
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Offline Library girl

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Re: Anyone done a barium swallow?
« Reply #2 on: December 27, 2012, 09:48:14 PM »
I jus realized that mine was a lower GI, and yours is probably an upper GI, but it's probably the same principle.
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Offline Hereismyusername

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Re: Anyone done a barium swallow?
« Reply #3 on: December 28, 2012, 07:55:22 AM »
Thanks library girl. Did it take awhile or was it pretty quick?
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Offline marc

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Re: Anyone done a barium swallow?
« Reply #4 on: December 28, 2012, 08:32:29 AM »
I had a barium swallow many years ago. It is pretty quick and painless. I have had many
EGD's and they are even quicker as you are asleep.
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Offline mollyfin

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Re: Anyone done a barium swallow?
« Reply #5 on: December 28, 2012, 09:38:25 AM »
I've had two and both times couldn't finish the stuff they make you drink - once I was sick with the flu and once had a huge ovarian mass squishing everything in my abdomen.  But that was the only problem - it took me forever to drink the part that I could, and I had to wait ages for it to work so I could go get the scan.  Both times were unexpected so I was panicking, freaking out and just having to sit there terrified.  But the scan itself?  Over in like ten minutes. 

Basically, if you don't get yourself worked up over it, it'll be easy.  Bring a book or something, though. 
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Offline Hereismyusername

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Re: Anyone done a barium swallow?
« Reply #6 on: December 28, 2012, 10:17:27 AM »
Thanks guys, I feel calmer about it now. Though it sounds like I'll be chugging the liquid as fast as possible!
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Offline mollyfin

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Re: Anyone done a barium swallow?
« Reply #7 on: December 28, 2012, 10:22:14 AM »
I've had two swallowed contrasts, one flavored with Crystal Light and one unflavored.  I think it depends on the contrast agent used; can't remember specifically what the first one was.  I didn't really find the taste unpleasant.  I mean, it wasn't GOOD, but it wasn't disgusting like I'd feared, either.  It felt like drinking unflavored Pepto Bismol.  Drinking it as fast as possible is a good call - the faster you finish, the faster they take you for the scan.  Which seems like it should be a bigger production after the length of time you have to wait for it! 
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Offline angrry

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Re: Anyone done a barium swallow?
« Reply #8 on: December 28, 2012, 02:22:00 PM »
I had a couple done quite a few years ago....the stuff was like a chalky milkshake..wasn't great...but also not terrible...they then did xrays...just make sure you drink lots of water after the barium can get you constipated
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Offline prayinforpeace

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Re: Anyone done a barium swallow?
« Reply #9 on: December 29, 2012, 12:31:55 AM »
I've had one and I didn't have a long wait or anything. I had to shoot back a little cup full of crystals first that they added water to and it made them fizz up. I had to swallow that really fast because it fizzed so quickly. The doc said it was to help inflate my stomach so they could see better. Then I had to drink that stuff, it's thick and chalky but doesn't really taste like much of anything. Then they took the pics in various positions, laying down and standing, and that was it. Nothing much to it.
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Offline seychelles311

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Re: Anyone done a barium swallow?
« Reply #10 on: December 29, 2012, 12:42:18 AM »
I had a barium swallow quite recently and I was terrified before I got it!  I have a phobia of food induced anaphylaxis, and I was convinced I would have an allergic reaction to the barium contrast, or that it would become hardened and impacted in my GI tract.  I know exactly how you feel, and it can be very scary.  But I must tell you that I was actually pleasantly surprised!  My radiologist was wonderful!  Very kind and patient!  I immediately informed him of my fears, and he and his assistant were extremely patient and encouraging.  They told me no question was a stupid question, and they talked me through the entire procedure. 

I can tell you this.  The barium contrast is considered hypoallergenic, and an allergic reaction to the liquid is extremely rare, almost unheard of.  It tastes kind of like a berry milkshake, but is fairly easy to swallow and not bad at all.  The whole procedure only took about 10 minutes, so it's super quick.  You get your results within 24 hours, so you don't have to wait forever to find out about your tests.  And, as long as you drink plenty of water and eat a high fiber diet for the next 3 days after your procedure, there's virtually no risk of impaction / obstruction in your GI tract.  You will just have light colored stools for a few days, you pass the barium, and it's done.  Super easy!  Nothing at all to be worried about!  I promise!  :)
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Offline Hereismyusername

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Re: Anyone done a barium swallow?
« Reply #11 on: December 31, 2012, 09:16:24 AM »
So glad to see all these answers and to be reassured! :)
One more question that I forgot to ask - were you guys allowed to eat beforehand? Or was it one of those things where you couldn't eat the night before or the next morning until it was done?
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Offline mollyfin

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Re: Anyone done a barium swallow?
« Reply #12 on: January 01, 2013, 02:50:48 PM »
Both of mine were done spur of the moment, not planned days in advance, and I don't remember being asked if I'd eaten anything that day.  I would advice against eating that day as a personal preference - my stomach felt huge and heavy after drinking the barium even though it had been empty (purely by coincidence) those days.  I think if I'd eaten anything I would've felt awful!
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Offline marc

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Re: Anyone done a barium swallow?
« Reply #13 on: January 01, 2013, 03:58:46 PM »
EGD's are more accurate, the test of choice and used more often according to my GI physician.
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Offline dancer67

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Re: Anyone done a barium swallow?
« Reply #14 on: January 02, 2013, 11:33:20 AM »
Barium swallows are easy. But if they do the small intestine you can be there for hours. I was told by the Dr. the Upper/lower GI series only pick up very serious things. So if your test is normal, that still doesn't mean you do not have an ulcer or anything else. But good news is that it isn't big enough to see on the test. Endoscopy is the only sure way to tell what is going on. My 20 yo and 14 yo both had endoscopies and they said it is so easy. You sleep and it takes 10 minutes.
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