Swallowing and Thick Liquids

OncoLink
Last Modified: June 8, 2012

Question:

My sister was told to have only thick liquids to prevent her from choking since she can't swallow correctly. Wouldn't it be harder to swallow thick things than water or soup?

Answer:

Patricia Dooley, Associate Director of the Division of Speech Language Pathology at Penn Medicine, responds:

For some patients, based on the cause of the swallowing difficulty, thickened liquids can be easier to swallow because the increased viscosity will slow the liquid transport down. However, this should be determined by a swallowing therapist to make sure that thickened liquids are appropriate.

This question and answer was part of the OncoLink Brown Bag Chat Series. View the entire Head and Neck Cancer Q&A Webchat transcript.

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