Consider yourself lucky if you haven’t yet had the pleasure of attempting to consume barium, or more specifically, barium sulfate, the equivalent of drinking liquid chalk.
Thick and unpleasant, the consumption of barium sulfate is normally required for a number of medical tests, most commonly utilized as an agent to increase the visibility and detailed imagery of x-rays.
Before your scheduled appointment for an x-ray, CAT scan, or other diagnostic procedures, the radiologist or physician will likely have instructed you to ingest two large containers of barium sulfate. Another option is to receive the induction of barium sulfate into your system by means of an enema, which of course can be equally as unpleasant as drinking it.
Barium sulfate is a necessary agent to provide distinctions between various organs and tissues of the body, so that the radiologist can locate any symptoms or conditions within the body.
Although Barium is considered a heavy metal and dangerously toxic, the barium sulfate compound is less soluble, making it nominally safer, as the body does not readily absorb the toxicity of the metal.
A small percentage of the population can have an allergic reaction to barium sulfate. If you’ve ever experienced an allergic reaction before to barium sulfate, or even foods or other dyes, you will need to alert your physician, so that other precautions and procedures can be undertaken.
Although barium sulfate has not been known to cause any adverse side effects in children or the elderly, x-rays of the abdomen are not recommended at all during pregnancy. You may also want to avoid breast feeding for a significant period of time if you must take barium sulfate.
Aside from a possible allergic reaction, barium sulfate has also been known to cause constipation, nausea, cramps, or joint and back pain. Such side effects are rare, but you should notify your physician immediately if they do occur. Side effects are normally temporary and fade as your body adjusts to the barium sulfate. To avoid severe constipation, be sure to drink a large amount of liquids after the tests have been administered. Extremely rare, but severe side effects can include fever, blood in the stool, or prolonged cramping.
Medications normally have no reaction with barium sulfate, but your physician should be made aware of any medicines you are currently taking in case he or she has special instructions regarding their use during the preparation for the tests.
Existing medical conditions can also cause a reaction with barium sulfate. If you have intestinal or stomach problems or cancer, asthma or other allergies, cystic fibrosis, or suffer from dehydration or Intestinal blockages, then consuming barium sulfate is not recommended as it can make these conditions more severe. Be sure to let your physician know of any existing medical conditions.
Typically, consuming barium sulfate is an unpleasant process, but normally safe and highly beneficial to providing good diagnostic results.