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What Does Barium Taste Like?

Barium is an insoluble substance, so it will not be able to dissolve in water. It tastes chalky and like a milkshake with some flavouring added. You will have to drink a glass of this liquid before your scan. Some people report that it is unpleasant, but most people can cope with the bitter taste. Here are some tips to help you avoid nausea and discomfort associated with swallowing barium.

The substance that a person will have to swallow is the same as the material they swallow for X-rays. It can be flavored or sweetened and has a chalky or bitter taste. Some people find it unpleasant, but it is not considered a health risk. However, some people have reported that they cannot tolerate the taste of the liquid. Those who have previously received radiation should inform their doctors of any previous exposure.

What is Barium?

A barium swallow test, also known as a cine esophagram, swallowing study, esophagography, modified barium swallow study, and video fluoroscope swallow study, is a specialized type of imaging test that uses barium and X-rays to create images of your upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Other names for this test include cine esophagram, swallowing study, esophagography, and videofluoroscopy swallow study. Your esophagus, located in the back of your mouth and throat (pharynx), is part of your upper gastrointestinal tract.

During a swallowing test, barium is administered to the patient to enhance the visibility of particular body parts on an X-ray. The radiologist will be able to get a good look at the dimensions and contours of the pharynx and the esophagus. Additionally, they will be able to observe how you swallow. It’s possible that a regular X-ray won’t pick up on these particulars. Only imaging tests that focus on the gastrointestinal tract can utilize barium.

A barium swallow test can be performed independently or as part of a series of tests for the upper gastrointestinal tract. The esophagus, stomach, and the beginning of the small intestine are discussed in this series (duodenum).

What does Barium Taste Like?

You will be asked to swallow barium that has been flavored and sweetened artificially. On the other hand, many people have commented that it has a bitter or chalky taste.

The granules that are swallowed during a barium swallow have the consistency of chalk and may have a slightly reminiscent flavor of medicine. This treatment does not pose any health risks and can be administered to patients of any age. Despite this, there are dangers involved in carrying out the procedure. If a person is expecting a child, they are not allowed to consume it. It is up to the physician to determine whether or not it is safe for you to go through with the test. It is not recommended that you go through with the procedure if you are pregnant.

Cost Of Barium Swallow

Your health insurance may entirely or partially cover a barium swallow. The treatment could cost between $300 and $450 if you don’t have insurance. This includes both your doctor’s time spent interpreting the X-rays and the cost of the technicians who operate.

Side Effects Of Barium

Constipation or faucal imp action can occur if the barium is not entirely removed from your body following the operation. To assist get the barium through your digestive tract and out of your body, drink plenty of water and eat high-fiber meals. If it doesn’t work, your doctor may prescribe a laxative to assist you in passing it.

You may notice that your bowel motions are lighter in color after your operation. This occurs because your body does not absorb the barium. Once all of the barium has been eliminated, the color of your feces will return to normal.

  • If you experience any of the following symptoms, consult your doctor immediately.
  • You are experiencing difficulty or are unable to have a bowel movement.
  • You have an abdominal ache or bloating.
  • The diameter of your stools is smaller than usual.
  • Barium swallowing, like all X-ray procedures, expose patients to radiation. The risks of radiation-related complications build up over time and are proportional to the number of X-ray tests and treatments a person receives in their lifetime. Before your barium swallow, record previous radiation procedures with your doctor.
  • Radiation exposure during pregnancy can cause birth abnormalities in unborn children. Pregnant women should avoid barium swallow procedures because of this.

Endoscopy Vs. Barium Swallow

The barium swallow is a less invasive alternative to endoscopy for seeing the upper GI tract. Barium swallows are an excellent diagnostic tool for detecting upper GI tract diseases that are difficult to detect with just an X-ray. Endoscopy is required for more complicated illnesses.


  • Wear loose-fitting garments that you can easily remove and replace.
  • Remove all jewellery before going in for your procedure at home.
  • Before beginning your fast at midnight, make sure you eat and drink plenty the night before your surgery. To prevent going without food or drink for too long, schedule your barium swallow first thing in the morning.
  • Be aware that barium has an unpleasant taste.
  • After your procedure, bring something to eat and drink. High-fibre foods, such as apples, bananas, and raspberries, can help avoid constipation while removing the unpleasant taste.
  • After your procedure, drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water the next day.

What is the Purpose of the Swallow Test?

It is possible to look for and diagnose issues in the pharynx and the esophagus by performing a barium swallow test. If your doctor suspects that you have any of the following conditions, they may recommend a barium swallow test for you:

  • Head and neck cancer, cancer of the pharynx, and cancer of the esophagus
  • Hernia of the hiatus. This indicates that a portion of your stomach has moved upward into or alongside the esophagus.
  • Problems with the structure, such as growths, pouches (called diverticula), or narrowing (called strictures) (polyps)
  • Enlarged veins (esophageal varies)
  • Disorders of the muscles, such as difficulty swallowing (also known as dysphagia) and spasms
  • Achalasia. This is a condition in which the muscle that makes up the lower esophageal sphincter does not relax and allow food to pass into the stomach.
  • The condition is known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) as well as ulcers
  • Your doctor may recommend a barium swallow test for reasons other than those listed here.

What Should I do to Get Ready for a Barium Swallow Test?

Consider the following points as you prepare for a barium swallow test:

  • The barium swallow test will be explained to you by your healthcare practitioner. Any inquiries you have about the swallowing test can be directed to him.
  • You may be required to sign a consent document authorizing the swallowing test. If anything is unclear, read the form carefully and ask questions.
  • Before the swallowing test, you must fast for at least 8 hours. This usually signifies after midnight.
  • Before scheduling a barium swallow test, inform your provider if you are pregnant or suspect you are pregnant.
  • Before having a swallowing test, tell your doctor if you are allergic to any drugs, latex, tape, or anesthetic medicines (both local and general).
  • Tell your doctor about all of your medications. Prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, and herbal supplements are all included. Before the swallowing test, you may need to stop taking them.
  • Tell your doctor if you’ve recently undergone a barium swallow or an upper GI test. This could make getting good X-rays of the lower GI area more difficult during a barium swallow test.
  • To prepare for the swallowing test, follow any other instructions your clinician provides you.

What Happens During a Barium Swallow Test?

A barium swallow test usually entails the following steps:

  • Any clothing, jewellery, or other objects that might get in the way of the swallowing test will be asked to be removed.
  • You might be asked to take off your clothes. If that’s the case, you’ll be given a gown to wear.
  • You’ll be lying on an X-ray table that can move from horizontal to upright. During the swallowing exam, you may be asked to change positions. For example, you may need to lie on your side, back, or stomach.
  • The radiologist may begin by taking X-rays of your chest and abdomen.
  • The radiologist will give you a thick, chalky barium drink. Barium is frequently flavored, but it doesn’t always taste well.
  • The radiologist will take single photos, X-rays, or fluoroscope as you drink the barium to observe it move through your mouth and throat.
  • You may be asked to hold your breath at times during the exam.
  • Thinner barium liquid will be supplied to you to swallow. The radiologist will monitor the barium’s progress down your throat with X-rays or fluoroscope. . may also give a barium pill to you to swallow. This is a tiny tablet. It can use to detect esophageal issues.
  • You’ll be helped from the table once the radiologist has taken all of the X-rays.
  • A barium swallow test can be done as an outpatient treatment or during your hospital stay. Depending on your situation and your healthcare provider’s procedures, the test may be performed differently.

When Should a Barium Swallow Test be Avoided?

If you have any of the following conditions, you should avoid a barium swallow test:

  • An esophageal or intestinal rip or hole (perforation)
  • Irritable bowel syndrome or severe constipation
  • Swallowing difficulties are severe. This increases the chances of barium unintentionally entering your lungs (aspiration).
  • Other dangers may exist, depending on your medical condition. Tell your doctor if you’re allergic or sensitive to drugs, contrast dyes, local anesthetic, iodine, or latex. Before the treatment, discuss any concerns you have with your practitioner.


An essential medical technique is the barium swallow test. For a few hours before the surgery, you must abstain from drinking and eat nothing. You should also refrain from chewing gum for at least one day before the examination. The barium swallow test is a painless and short process, but you should not drink too much before it. The barium swallow will take 60 minutes to complete. You should take a tablet before the surgery if you’re pregnant.

You’ll have to swallow a chalky white substance for a barium swallow. . You’ll combine it with water to form a thick, sticky liquid. . that will coat your upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract with the fluids. You’ll get a more detailed GI X-ray if you drink this liquid than if you ate the barium. You should skip it if you don’t like it.