Medical Thickeners for Solid and Liquid Food
Medical thickeners are meant to add viscosity to food and beverages so that they may be more easily ingested by patients who suffer from any condition that impairs swallowing, such as dysphagia. This condition is described as a sensation that makes the passing of solids and liquids from the mouth to the stomach difficult. Patients who have been diagnosed with dysphagia are often prescribed thickened fluids. This is because these individuals have a tendency to aspirate when they drink, but the thicker the fluid, the less likely it is to be aspirated.
Natural thickened fluids include tomato juice, buttermilk, honey, cream soups, and pudding. However, there are many fluid medical thickeners available as well, including Resource Thickened Juice, Resource Thickened Water, Resource Dairy Thick (all three by Invacare Supply Group), Aquacareh2O OJ honey, Food THCK Oj/Nectar, Aquacareh2O OJ nectar, and many others that come in refreshing flavors like apple and cranberry. A dysphagia patient who fails to drink thickened fluids risks pulmonary aspiration and aspiration pneumonia, as well as dehydration, malnutrition and renal failure. Symptoms of this condition include difficulty controlling food in the mouth, inability to control food or saliva, difficulty initiating a swallow, coughing, choking, frequent pneumonia, unexplained weight loss, gurgly or wet voice after swallowing, and nasal regurgitation.
In addition to thickened fluids, there are also food thickeners that can be added to all types of foods, both and cold, and without detriment to their original flavor. This may seem unrelated, but it has been recently published that former U.S. President William Howard Taft had problems following his diet, probably because it focused on food and not on flavor. That means it’s important to feed oneself, but food must not only be digestible but also edible. Products like Medline Active Instant Food Thickener provide smooth consistency without compromising taste.
These medical thickeners are not aimed only at adults. Enfamil A.R. Infant Formula by Invacare Supply Group has been proven to reduce spit up in babies who spit up frequently, by 40%. Furthermore, it is a nutritionally balanced formula thickened with added rice starch, and contains docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and arachidonic acid (ARA) nutrients, which can be found in breast milk, and that promote brain and eye development. In summary, medical thickeners like Thick & Easy Instant Food Thickener are both safe and appealing, and instantly provide just the right consistency for swallowing, in order to keep patients well-fed and hydrated.