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As a Speech Pathologist, I was regularly asked questions like this by the own family participants of individuals who have been newly diagnosed with swallowing trouble. Most humans have in no way heard of swallowing difficulties, not to mention ‘Thickened Drinks’. Swallowing difficulties (additionally known as ‘Dysphagia’) are not commonplace, but they can affect human beings of all ages. There are many known causes of dysphagia however a number of the extra common ones are: stroke; cerebral palsy; Parkinson’s sickness; head trauma; surgery and radiation therapy as a result of most cancers of the pinnacle or neck; and adjustments to the nerves and muscles of the throat that making swallowing difficult for the aged.
What Are Thickened Fluids and Why Are They Recommended?
If someone you understand has been identified with a swallowing difficulty, possibilities are they have been recommended ‘thickened beverages’ or ‘thickened fluids’. Thickened beverages are basically normal drinks that have had an specially formulated thickener delivered to them, to cause them to thicker than ordinary beverages (this is mentioned greater later in the article). They are encouraged through Speech Pathologists (also called Speech Therapist or Speech and Language therapists) for people who can no longer swallow everyday fluids thoroughly and who’re vulnerable to having liquids move into their lungs. The effects of drinks going into the lungs may be strong coughing, choking or extra serious dangers including a chest infection and aspiration pneumonia. I recently labored with one girl who, only 4 months before, was in the clinic together with her 0.33 bout of aspiration pneumonia in less than 10 months. She has been encouraged thickened liquids over 12 months in the past, but she became still consuming everyday drinks at the least once an afternoon and small amounts of the beverages had been going into her lungs. This was trouble, now not handiest because of the fluid inside the lungs, but due to the fact obviously going on the micro organism in her mouth traveled with the fluid and into her lungs. Once this takes place, it is simplest a count of time before the micro organism causes a chest infection referred to as aspiration pneumonia. Fortunately for this female, she, in the end, listened to advice and most effective drank the thickened drinks that had been encouraged to her. She has now not had a recurrence of aspiration pneumonia considering the fact that!
So what is so special about thickened liquids? One reason they paintings is due to the fact they tour extra slowly down the throat and are less complicated for a person to manipulate when they swallow. To get a better concept, consider this- Someone begins pouring water out of a cup and tells you to catch it in a bowl that you are maintaining. You will try to reply as brief as you may, but there’ll possibly be a delay between once they start pouring and if you have moved the bowl to trap the water. This short put off will possibly suggest that some of the water lands at the ground. Now imagine a person pouring a thickened drink, like a thick shake, out of a cup. You might in all likelihood catch plenty more of this liquid because the thick shake flows greater slowly out of the cup and offers you more time to respond. This is similar to what happens when someone with a swallowing difficulty drinks water versus a thickened drink. When they drink water, the muscle groups and nerves in their throat don’t act quick enough and a number of the water can cross into their lungs. But when they drink thickened beverages, the fluid movements extra slowly and this gives their body more time to control and direct the fluid faraway from their lungs and in the direction of their belly. That is one reason why thickened fluids paintings. As people with swallowing problems tend to have the problem all day, every day, thickened fluids are supposed to replace normal beverages. That means humans having thickened fluids will in maximum cases, not be capable of drink normal drinks in any respect or till their Speech Pathologist advises otherwise. Therefore, whilst a person is on thickened beverages, they have to purpose to drink as tons of them as is needed to hold regular hydration (1-2 liters).
The Three Levels of Thickened Fluids
When someone is recognized with a swallowing difficulty, a Speech Pathologist will advocate one of 3 exclusive thickness tiers. The degree of thickness that is endorsed varies from person to individual. It relies upon at the severity of someone’s swallowing disorder. Typically, the worse the swallowing ailment, the thicker the drink. Recently, Speech Pathology Australia and the Dietitian’s Association of Australia worked together to create the Australian Standards for Texture Modified Foods and Fluids*. They advanced the following naming and descriptions for the three recognized thicknesses of thickened beverages: