measuring cup with powdered thickener

Discovering the Best Thickeners

When deciding on a thickener for dysphagia it can depend on a variety of factors, including individual preferences, dietary restrictions, and the specific needs of the person with dysphagia. Here are some common thickeners used for managing dysphagia:


Xanthan Gum-Based Thickeners: Xanthan gum-based thickeners are a choice for dysphagia management. They are versatile, providing a consistent and smooth texture to liquids. However, they may have some potential drawbacks such as, allergen concerns, cost, reaction to acidic ingredients, and clarity in liquids.

Starch-Based Thickeners: Starch-based thickeners, often using modified cornstarch, are another common option. They come in different viscosities to accommodate various liquid consistencies. However, they may have some potential drawbacks such as, caloric content, preparation time and taste alteration.

Gel-Based Thickeners: Gel-based thickeners are clear and may offer a more natural appearance in liquids. They are designed to maintain clarity while providing the necessary thickness. However, they may have some potential drawbacks such as, potential clumping, temperature sensitivity, and taste alteration.

Mixing Application vs. Ready-to-Use:

  • Mixing Application: These are typically available in bulk containers and require mixing.
  • Ready-to-Use Thickeners: Some thickeners come in pre-mixed form, providing convenience.

It's important to work closely with healthcare professionals, including speech-language pathologists and dietitians, to determine the appropriate thickness level for you or your loved one based on individual needs and swallowing abilities. The goal is to achieve a consistency and enjoyment that ensures safe swallowing and allows for the person to continue to get adequate nutrition. 

In summary, when selecting a thickener, consider factors such as allergies, taste, ease of preparation, and the ability to maintain stability over time.

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