Barium Swallow Test

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Barium Swallow test for 1-yr. old's constant coughing?

Aug 2003

My 1-yr. old daughter has had a raspy, rattly cough all her life that never has gone away. She also gets watery eyes and runny noses even when she doesnt have a cold. She has seen an allergist and tested negative to common allergies(pet hair, dairy, etc). She has had a sweat chloride test that ruled out Cistic Fibrosis. Now, her Pulminary specialist wants to do a barruim swallow test. This is supposed to indicate if she has reflux or some physical disorder that prevents the food from being digested correctly, as I understand it.

My question to anyone who has had or whose child has had this test is: how risky, pervasive, and uncomfortable is this test? It seems like an awful lot to put a 1-yr. old through. And I am not sure whether its worth it. If we find out she has reflux, odds are she will eventually grow out of it and there is not much we can do about it to treat the problem. She is otherwise healthy and happy, and growing well.

There also seems to be a question among all these doctors that she may have asthma, but no one will commit to diagnosing her as such. I am concerned about having to put her through this test if its not really necessary.

Thanks in advance for your advice. Angelica

Can you get a second opinion from a pediatric gastroenterologist- perhaps one not associated with the first doctor's hospital- on the risk/value of the prodecure? - 2nd opinion fan
A few months ago I had to do a barium swallow and there was a mom there with her infant, about 8 months old. Although it was extremely uncomfortable for me, the baby didn't seem fazed by it and the mom also said that he was perfectly fine. (That being said, I would also think long and hard before doing it if I were in your situation, especially for a condition that the baby might just grow out of.) Hopefully this will ease your mind if you do decide to do the test. Lauren
My son had the test when he was two. I did not find it helpful because the results are inconclusive. Stomach fluid going upwards happens sporadically, so it is probable not to catch it at the moment of the test. His pediatrician had ordered the test and the results were negative. Later, I went to a gastroenterolist and he prescribed tagamet. My son takes it three times a day and his symptoms are gone. The doctor explained that the test for reflux (a scope down the throat) is too invasive. Therefore they give meds and see if it helps. My son's symptoms were a lot different than your child's. But if they suspect reflux, I would try meds and see if it helps. Helena
Our son had a barium swallow on his first birthday. He had absolutely no problem with it. We did it in the morning and he had nothing to eat before hand. I lay him down on the table and gave him the bottle with the barium mixture in it. He sucked it down while we watched on the monitor. Then he was done and we went home. Not a great celebration, but problem free. Brian