WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
- Barium swallow, also called an esophagram, is an x-ray procedure to examine the esophagus (food pipe) using barium. Liquid barium is a white, chalky contrast material that helps the esophagus show up better on the x-ray. The esophagus is the tube that carries food and liquid from the mouth to the stomach. With a barium swallow, diseases and other problems that affect the esophagus may be diagnosed. These may include heartburn or esophageal bleeding, blockage, cancer (tumor), hernia (defective walls), or diverticuli (pouches). A barium swallow may also help caregivers learn what is causing troubled or painful swallowing.
- A barium swallow may be done on an out-patient basis or during a hospital stay. Barium is mixed with water and drank to give a better view of the esophagus. With a barium swallow, conditions of the esophagus may be diagnosed and proper treatment may be given.
Take your medicine as directed.
Call your primary healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
- Enemas or laxatives: Barium can cause constipation and may cause a blockage in your colon if it is not passed out of your body. These medicines may be given to help you empty your bowel faster. Ask your caregiver if you have any questions about these medicines.
- Stool softeners: This medicine makes it easier for you to have a bowel movement. You may need this medicine to treat or prevent constipation.
Ask for information about where and when to go for follow-up visits:
For continuing care, treatments, or home services, ask for more information.
- Ask your caregiver when the results of your procedure will be available.
- This is also called a BM or having a stool. Your BM may be light-colored from the barium for 24 to 72 hours. You may also become constipated (dry, hard stools) after having the procedure. To prevent bleeding, do not strain or push hard while having a BM. Check your stool to make sure it is not black or have blood in it.
- Walking is the best way to get your bowels moving. Eat foods high in fiber to make it easier to have a BM. Good examples are high fiber cereals, beans, vegetables, and whole grain breads. Prune juice may help make your BM softer. Caregivers may give you fiber medicine or a stool softener to help make your BM softer and more regular. Ask your caregiver for more information about these medicines and if you should take laxatives or enemas.
Eat healthy foods:
Choose healthy foods from all the food groups every day. Include whole-grain bread, cereal, rice, and pasta. Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, including dark green and orange vegetables. Include dairy products such as low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese. Choose protein sources, such as lean beef and chicken, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts. Ask how many servings of fats, oils, and sweets you should have each day, and if you need to be on a special diet.
Drinking six to eight cups of healthy liquids each day will help to prevent constipation that may be caused by the barium. Follow your caregiver's advice if you must change the amount of liquid you drink. For most people, healthy liquids to drink are water, juices, and milk. Limit the amount of caffeine in your diet. Caffeine may be found in coffee, tea, soda pop, sports drinks, and foods. Try to drink enough liquid each day, and not just when you feel thirsty.
Rest when you feel it is needed. Slowly start to do more each day. Return to your daily activities as directed.
CONTACT A CAREGIVER IF:
- You have a feeling of being too full or bloated.
- You have a fever.
- You have nausea (upset stomach) or vomiting (throwing up).
- You are unable to have a BM.
- You have stools are still light-colored and very thin (like a pencil) after three days.
- Your skin is itchy, swollen, or has a rash.
- You have questions or concerns about your procedure, condition, or care.
SEEK CARE IMMEDIATELY IF:
- You are not able to eat or drink, or are urinating less or not at all.
- You have problems having a bowel movement or passing urine.
- You have trouble breathing all of a sudden.
- Your abdomen becomes tender and hard.
- Your signs and symptoms are getting worse.
- Your stools are black or have blood in them.
- Your vomit (throw up) has blood or bile in it.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.