Hit me with your best Barium cocktail recipe
August 18, 2014 6:38 AM   Subscribe

I've got an appointment with my local radiology unit this morning for a couple of barium related tests. Any recommendations on making the suspension more bearable?

The last time I had Barium suspension was March 11, 1988. It was a traumatic day and I'm working on staying in the moment and not flashing back to being a kid and my experience of drinking the suspension from back then.

Has the stuff made any advances in taste/consistency/drinkability in the past twenty-six years?
Is there anything I can bring with me to flavor the drink?
Do you have any recommendations on how to get the stuff down like a boss?
posted by ovenmitt to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Grape kool-aid mix helps, but check with your doctor or nurse first.

I did "shots" of it, and had a friend prompt me to take a shot every 60 seconds.
posted by third word on a random page at 6:45 AM on August 18, 2014

I had it three years ago this month.

It's not pleasant, but it's not as bad as some people, who had taken it a long time ago, told me it would be. The nurse told me to keep it cold, which helps with the taste and consistency. I made myself breathe through my mouth for a minute before taking it to kill my sense of smell. Chug, don't sip.

Don't add anything to it unless the doctor says you can. Foods with coloring can have a negative impact on the test, and you don't want to have to go through this twice!

For me, it wasn't hard until the last few doses, but I think that was more the repetition and quantity than anything else.

On a related note, follow the rules about eating/drinking that your doctor will give you. There's a cut-off point where you can't have anything else to eat/drink. If you're a regular coffee/tea drinker, have a cup at the last possible moment, else you're likely to feel groggy/dragging when you head in to your appointment. It was the last feeling I wanted at that time.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 7:12 AM on August 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

I had one about 8 years ago. They had flavorings for it. I think I chose strawberry. It really wasn't horrible, it was just unpleasant. Have you ever had one of those dental impression molds taken, like for braces or something? The flavor made it taste like how that goop tastes. Not something you'd actively choose to eat, but something you can muddle through. Like stale bubble gum. The consistency was about like pancake batter.

For me it wasn't the going down that was the problem, it was the resultant chalky white deer poops for the next two days.
posted by phunniemee at 7:13 AM on August 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

I had it quite recently. It was supposedly vanilla flavored, but just tasted bland and mildly sweet. I had three large bottles, and I was supposed to finish each bottle within 10 minutes of starting. The most significant barrier was feeling full.

It will be fine! You can do it! Like a BOSS!
posted by Sullenbode at 7:35 AM on August 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

Get a friend, and two shot glasses. Supply them with something not entirely pleasant, but not cruel (like unsweetened cranberry juice, or super-tart lemonade) Bang out your shots together.
posted by aimedwander at 7:51 AM on August 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

You guys are awesome. Headed in now. Thank you for the great advice and envouragement!
posted by ovenmitt at 8:07 AM on August 18, 2014

Hopefully not too late, but I did a barium swallow a few months ago.

Yeah, it's like drinking thick liquid chalk. Mine was mint flavoured, maybe yours will be too.

Trust me, your doctors would have told you if there were anything you could or should do to make it easier to swallow.

Just chug, remember that this too shall pass, and be surprised by white poop for a few days.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:40 AM on August 18, 2014

A friend of mine who had to deal with this recently seconded the "do shots" strategy and also suggested biting in to a lime/lemon afterwards to purge the taste from your mouth.
posted by jessamyn at 10:23 AM on August 18, 2014

(since a couple of folks marked this as a favorite, i wanted to add my post-test notes)


Radiologists have lots of really cool options for lead lined apron patterns. I saw tie-dye and camo and a couple others that would put kids at ease if they had to hang out in radiology/nuclear medicine.

The Upper GI Series requires you to drink the solution while they are filming you, so all of my best laid plans of timed shots were thrown out the window. they were taking video as i took large slurps from a thick straw. That stuff was melty milkshake consistency and had a hint of apple to it, though i wouldn't call it a flavor.

Then they moved me to the thicker stuff and phunniemee hit the nail on the head with her dental impression comparison. Tougher to stop the gag reflex with that stuff and definitely more milk of magnesia tasting.

I love jessamyn's friend's idea and if I end up having to do this again (please no, maker, please) I'm going to ask if that's possible.

In the end, I was able to not work myself into a panic and definitely regret losing as much sleep as I did over it last night.
posted by ovenmitt at 12:16 PM on August 18, 2014 [3 favorites]

FWIW, in case anyone reads this thread later:

My autistic younger brother had to have surgery back in 2007. He had some pre-surgery tests, and had to drink the barium liquid. His doctor had the med staffer mix it with a 2 liter of his favorite beverage--Diet Sprite Zero. He consumed it with no stress.

Obviously, YMMV so check with your doctor first.
posted by magstheaxe at 6:56 PM on August 19, 2014

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