People who have difficulty swallowing thin liquids often must drink thickened liquids. Drinking thickened liquids can help prevent choking and stop fluid from entering the lungs.
The 3 common consistencies of thickened liquids are nectar-thick, honey-thick, and pudding-thick. Your doctor or speech therapist should tell you what consistency your liquids should be. As a general rule:
Nectar-thick liquids are easily pourable and are comparable to apricot nectar or thicker cream soups.
Honey-thick liquids are slightly thicker, are less pourable, and drizzle from a cup or bowl.
Pudding-thick liquids hold their own shape. They are not pourable and are usually eaten with a spoon.
All liquids must be thickened. Avoid thin liquids. Thin liquids often cause choking and are harder to swallow than thick liquids. Examples of thin liquids are water, coffee, milk, soda, broth, and soup.
Do not eat anything that melts, such as ice cream or ice cubes. Do not add ice cubes to thickened liquids. When the ice melts, it makes the drink too thin.
People who have difficulty swallowing liquids often don’t get enough daily fluids. You should drink 6 to 8 cups of fluid every day, unless your doctor restricts your fluids because of a medical condition.
Even though they are thickened, thick liquids are still considered part of your fluid intake. It’s important to drink enough fluid so you don’t get dehydrated.
Remember, it is very important to take your time eating and drinking. Stay in an upright position while drinking and for 15 to 30 minutes afterward. Talk to your doctor, speech therapist, and dietitian to help determine which foods and fluids you tolerate best.
You may need to avoid certain moist and juicy foods. Common examples are oranges, grapes, and watermelon.
These have thin juices, which can easily enter the lungs. You also may need to avoid gelatins (like Jell-O) and scrambled eggs. Ask your doctor about these foods.
Do not use a straw. It may cause you to choke or have trouble swallowing.