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Barium Swallow


A barium swallow

, or modified barium swallow, is a test that may help find the cause of swallowing problems. A barium swallow is also called an esophagram.

Prepare for a barium swallow:

Do not eat, drink, smoke, chew gum, or suck on mints or candy for at least 8 hours before the test. Food, drinks, and smoking increase saliva and affect barium. Your healthcare provider will tell you not to wear jewelry, a bra, or glasses during the test. He or she will also ask you to remove any piercings.

What will happen during a barium swallow:

You will be asked to eat foods and drink liquids with barium in them. X-rays show healthcare providers how the barium travels to your stomach.

What will happen after the barium swallow:

Your healthcare provider will tell you foods you can have and which foods to avoid. You will also be told to increase the amount of liquid you drink. Liquid helps get the barium out of your body. Your bowel movements may look pale or white. This is normal because of the barium.

Call your doctor if:

  • You cannot have a bowel movement.
  • You have questions or concerns about your test.

Follow up with your doctor as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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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.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.