Barium sulfate suspension is a combination of barium sulfate powder and a liquid given to patients before X-rays or CT scans of the gastrointestinal area.
Barium sulfate coats the esophagus, stomach and intestines with a material that isn't absorbed by the body, allowing your doctor to see damaged or diseased areas more clearly. This enhanced image can assist in diagnosing illness or injury.
Minor Side Effects
Patients drinking the suspension likely will experience nausea, diarrhea and cramping, says the St. John Health System. A brief period of constipation is also common.
Serious Side Effects
Call your doctor, says the Mayo Clinic, if you experience severe symptoms, such as prolonged nausea, constipation or diarrhea; vomiting; breathing problems; bloating; tightness in the chest; prolonged pain or cramping in the stomach or abdomen; or fever.
Seek immediate medical attention if you have allergy symptoms such as rash or hives, or swelling of the face, lips or tongue. Inform your doctor of any allergies, medications, pregnancy or medical conditions before undergoing treatment.
After the Procedure
Boost your water intake to push the barium through your system and avoid constipation. Your stools may be light-colored for a few days after the test, according to the St. John Health System.