person drinking thick water

Why You Need to Know What Thick Water Is

Thick water is a liquid that has been modified in consistency to make it thicker than regular water. It is commonly used as part of dysphagia management for individuals with swallowing difficulties (dysphagia) which is used to reduce the risk of aspiration.

People with dysphagia might have trouble swallowing thin liquids because they can flow quickly, increasing the risk of liquids entering the airway and causing aspiration. Thickening liquids can help slow down the flow, making them safer to swallow.

Thickened water is prepared by adding a commercial thickening agent or thickening powder to water, which changes its texture and consistency. The level of thickening can vary based on individual needs, as determined by healthcare professionals such as speech-language pathologists or dietitians.

There are typically three levels of thickening for liquids:

  1. Nectar-Thick: Similar in consistency to nectar or a thick smoothie. It's often used for individuals with mild swallowing difficulties.
  2. Honey-Thick: Resembles the thickness of honey. It's used for individuals with moderate swallowing difficulties.
  3. Pudding-Thick: Has a consistency similar to pudding or custard. It's used for individuals with severe swallowing difficulties.

It's important to use thickened water and other thickened liquids under the guidance of healthcare professionals. The appropriate level of thickening can vary based on an individual's specific condition and swallowing abilities. The goal is to provide hydration and maintain nutritional intake while minimizing the risk of aspiration. Individuals on thickened liquids often work with healthcare professionals to determine the appropriate level of thickness and make adjustments based on their progress and preferences.

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