I had my 1-year followup visit to my surgeon yesterday afternoon, preceeded by a barium swallow in the morning. I've had barium in the past with no problem. This time it wasn't the chalky stuff; it was sweet and flavored with strawberry flavoring. I asked whether there was sweetener and flavoring, was told no, there wasn't. Stupidly I accepted the reply and didn't ask for the product sheet.
My stomach rebelled, heaving like trying to reflux. I told the resident what was happening, but was ignored. Again stupidly, I continued the test. I really wanted to know if there was a re-herniation, as had been reported on a couple of CTs I'd had. That afternoon I started having a migraine-type headache, although I've only had headaches from medications previously. At 5AM this morning I was having pretty bad headache pain and really awful tinnitus. I got up and then noticed my throat (esophagus) felt swollen, and I was itching. I still had mild nausea leftover from all day yesterday.
I had read the bottle while waiting in the radiology exam room, to see if there was an ingredient list, but there wasn't. The med was called E-Z-Paque. So this morning while waiting for people to come to work in radiology, I looked it up and was surprised to find it's not even sold in the US - it's from Canada! It's got pectin, sorbital, carrageenan, simethicone, strawbery flavor, and saccharin - most of which contain sulfites, to which I am sensitive.
When I finally was able to talk to the resident, he was nasty, told me nobody has a reaction and there wasn't anything in it but barium sulfate, and I should just go to the ER. And pay $50 for non-life-threatening reaction and be given Benadryl? I don't think so! I got my PCP and was told to take Benadryl and a prednisone, which I did. I've left voice mail for the gastro doc's nurse because I want this reaction documented on my record. Since the whole UPMC system only uses this brand of barium I'll have to get the next one done somewhere else and will ask for the bad-tasting plain stuff.
To top it off, I'd waited for this appointment to be able to see my surgeon, only to be told he wasn't available. I haven't seen him since the last apointment BEFORE surgery. Never even saw him the day of surgery, don't really know for sure if he even did it himself, although it was in the report.
Moral of the story: If you think you may be being given a medication you don't tolerate, stop and don't take it! Don't take their word for anything without reading it for yourself.