Making liquids thicker can help to alleviate swallowing difficulties. They are frequently prescribed for patients who are unable to swallow conventional fluids securely due to the fact that liquids enter their lungs, causing coughing, choking, and more serious concerns such as chest infections and aspiration pneumonia, among other things.
Dysphagia is the medical word for the inability to swallow properly. The use of thickened liquids in the therapy of dysphagia is common because they aid to enhance bolus control while also reducing the risk of aspiration.
What is the purpose of thicker fluids? Taking a swallow might be difficult if your mouth or throat muscles are weak or clumsy. You may choke or sputter while you swallow. It is often simpler to swallow thick fluids because they travel more slowly, allowing the swallower to maintain better control over the liquid.
In order to change the properties of fluids, thickening agents are used. The rationale is that thick fluids have a higher viscosity and can compensate for a lack of swallowing by slowing down the flow of fluid from the mouth to the oropharynx, giving the glottis more time to close, potentially reducing the risk of choking.
For people who have difficulty swallowing, thin fluids can be difficult to handle since they move quickly through the mouth. Someone with swallowing difficulties may find it easy to inhale them (this is known as aspiration). Drinks that are thickened flow more slowly through the mouth and throat, making them simpler to regulate.
It is essential for persons who have dysphagia to adjust the texture of the fluid they eat in order to reduce the danger of choking and aspiration when they are drinking. Thickened fluids are simpler to swallow because they reach the pharynx more slowly, giving the body more time to block up the pathway to the lungs, preventing aspiration and choking from occurring.
Thick water is a safe and efficient approach to remain hydrated for the more than 13 million people in the United States who have trouble swallowing.
Following the thickened liquid challenge (#thickenedliquidchallenge), I can attest to some of the most severe adverse effects of thickening the fluids that we regularly consume, including increased thirst, dry mouth, dehydration, and a sense of fullness.
A review of the research on the effects of bolus modification on swallow safety found that thickening liquids slows their flow rate, giving the patient more time to close their airways and reduce the risk of aspiration; modified texture foods are easier and safer to swallow for people who have chewing difficulties.
Are there any adverse effects to thickeners? It is possible that thickening agents will create negative side effects such as constipation, gassiness, and loose stools (soft poop or diarrhea).
Aspiration is defined as when anything enters your airway or lungs by unintentionally and causes irritation. It might be food, drink, or any other type of substance. This can result in major health complications, such as pneumonia, if not addressed. When you have difficulty swallowing normally, you may experience aspiration.
When it comes to fluids, this includes any meals or beverages that are liquid at room temperature. Any and all beverages, Jello, ice cream, sherbet, popsicles, water ice, ice cubes, soup, custard, pudding, sauces, and gravies, among other things, are considered fluids.
Applesauce, custard, gravy, juice, and yogurt are examples of foodstuffs whose thickness might vary depending on the brand. Ice cream treats, milkshakes, Popsicles®, sherbet, frozen slushy drinks, frozen soy desserts, and frozen yogurt are all acceptable. It is not possible to thicken these dishes.
Individuals following a nectar thick diet should avoid any thin beverages that have not been thickened with nectar. In addition to ice cream and popsicles (which melt), frozen yogurt (which melts) and ice cubes (which melt) should be avoided. Another thing to avoid is the combination of fluid and solids, such as chunky soups and Jell-O flavored with fruit.