Can you eat before an X-ray?

In this article, we will provide an answer to the question “Can you eat before an X-ray?” with an in-depth analysis of the X-ray, the need to perform an x-ray, how to prepare for an x-ray and types of x-ray. 

Can you eat before an x-ray?

Yes, we can eat and drink as usual before an X-ray. We can also take our medications before the x-ray. Taking edibles or medicines have no side effects before an x-ray. 

But in some cases, you will have to avoid eating and drinking, for instance, when you are undergoing x-rays like contrast media or contrast reagents in which the internal body is pictured to see the normal functioning of organs more clearly through radiations like magnetic resonance (MR) imaging and ultrasound. 

In these cases, it is also mandatory to skip certain medications a few hours ago. 

What is an X-ray?

X-ray is an immediate process that is used to visualize the inner side of the body by capturing it in pictures. It is a very successful method of looking at the bones and identifying the inner conditions or ranges of the body. The best part is it does not cause any kind of pain.

Where is an X-ray carried out?

Healthcare professionals can also perform an x-ray of patients but specifically, Radiographers are required to perform an x-ray in the X-ray department of health care centres like hospitals etc.

How does it work?

X-rays are radiations that can pass through the body parts and on the other end, these radiations form the image of the body like the softer parts of the body such as the heart and lungs where these rays can pass easily than other parts that are denser in comparison like bones where these radiations show up darker area and white area respectively.

As these radiations pass through the body, they are absorbed at different rates in the body so that they create an image on the other end. These radiations cannot be seen by the naked eye and also we can’t feel them.

When X-rays are used?

X-ray is used to inspect the body, majorly to look at the bones and joints and also used to diagnose the soft tissues such as internal organs. 

X-rays can be used by healthcare professionals such as surgeons and doctors to diagnose certain procedures like coronary angioplasty- a procedure that is performed on narrower arteries of the heart to make them expand at a certain level of examination.

Following are some of the problems that can be diagnosed during an x-ray,

  • Lungs Problems such as pneumonia and lung cancer
  • Fracture and breakage of bone
  • Cardiac issues such as heart failure
  • Breast cancer
  • Dental issues including dental abscesses and loosen teeth
  • Scoliosis– that is the abnormal curvature of the spine
  • Dysphagia such as swallowing issues

Preparing for an X-ray

We do not need to do something special before the x-ray. We can eat, drink as per our routine. However, we should wear loose clothes and try to avoid jewellery or clothes containing metal such as zips that can be uncomfortable for the patient as these will be compulsory to remove.

X-rays are usually not recommended for pregnant women unless or until it is an emergency case.

Contrast X-ray

These types of x-ray require some special preparations like avoiding eating, drinking and taking certain medications and this type of x-ray takes longer to carry out than the other x-ray.

During a contrast X-ray, a component called a contrast agent is given before x-ray so that more clear results of soft tissues can be seen on x-ray.

These contrast agents include 

Barium swallow- A component called barium is consumed that helps to enlighten the digestive part of the body

Barium Enema- It is passed through the bottom into the bowel.

Angiography It ensures to highlight the blood vessels and heart by injecting iodine into the blood vessels.

Intravenous Urogram (VU)- In this iodine is injected into the blood vessel to make sure to highlight the part like kidneys and bladder.

What happens after an x-ray?

You will not face any side effects from standard x-ray and can come back afterwards shortly to your place and can continue your normal activities straight away.

However, you might face some side effects after the contrast agents if any of them is used during the x-ray. E.g some may feel sickness or rash after the iodine injection into the body or eyesight can be blurry after the x-ray due to the injection that is given to relax the stomach.

Is X-ray safe?

People are usually worried about radiation exposure to the body during an x-ray. Part of the body that is under examination will be exposed to a very low level of radiation. But these radiations might cause cancer many years or decades later but it is a very rare case.


In this article, we have provided an answer to the question “Can you eat before an X-ray?” with an in-depth analysis of the X-ray, the need to perform an x-ray, how to prepare for an x-ray and types of x-ray.