Thick Water and Other Thickened Liquids

an array of thick water and thickened liquids we carry at personally delivered

Thick water and other thickened liquids allow those with swallowing disorders such as dysphagia to control the fluid in their mouth better. These beverages help slow down the rate these liquids flow down the throat, which lessens the chance of fluid going into your airway. Liquids that go into your airway end up in your lungs and can cause pneumonia or a lung infection.

The thicker consistency of thick water and other thickened liquids makes them less likely to cause a person to accidentally breathe fluid into the lungs (aspirate) while they are drinking. Individuals with difficulty swallowing may find that thickened liquids enable them to swallow safely.

What is thick water?

thick-it clear advantage thick waterThickened liquids are a medical dietary adjustment that increases fluids’ consistency to prevent choking. Thickened liquids are recommended for individuals who have difficulty swallowing (dysphagia) and keeping food or liquid from entering the airway. You may need to have thickened liquids for dysphagia if you have a neurological condition such as a stroke, a weakening of the esophagus’ muscles or nerves, or from a blockage in the throat.

Viscosity is the measurement of how thin or thick a liquid is. The lower the viscosity, the thinner the liquid. Thus, the higher the viscosity, the thicker the liquid. When a thin liquid such as water is mixed with Xanthan Gum or modified starch, the liquid starts to thicken, forming into thick water. The more Xanthum Gum or modified starch added, the thicker the liquid consistency becomes.


Starch-based thickeners are easier to mix, but they are best consumed immediately after mixing. The longer a starch-based thickener sits, the thicker the consistency will become. If the liquid is then refrigerated, the fluid may become too thick.

Xanthan gum-based thickeners are more versatile and have a more stable viscosity than starch. Once this type of thickener achieves its optimal viscosity, your food or beverage will be ready for consumption at the consistency that you want it. Xanthan gum-based thickeners can be frozen, thawed, and refrigerated while retaining the desired consistency.

Commercial Xanthan gum-based thickened products include:

Why would thick water be recommended?

Dysphagia – If you suffer from dysphagia, you may need help moving liquids more slowly down your throat. Thick water and other thickened liquids give extra time to control the liquid while swallowing. Thickened liquids may also help to protect the airway.

Trach Tube Removal – Patients may be advised to consume thickened liquids after the trachea tube that helped them breathe is removed. Thickened liquids may help effectively and safely transfer fluids from the mouth to the stomach after this breathing tube is removed.

Speech or Oral Issue – If you are seeing a Speech-Language Pathologist, they may recommend thickened liquids to make swallowing liquids safer for a couple of reasons.

  • If you have a delayed swallow, thick water or thickened liquids can slow down the liquid flow. Thin liquids move fast and can spill out of the mouth and into the throat before you are ready to swallow.
  • Not only do thin liquids move fast, but they are also difficult to control and unpredictable. Thickened liquids can keep the sip of liquid together in one ball (also known as a bolus). If you have decreased airway closure, thin liquids can splash into the airway before, during, or after swallowing.

The goal is to prevent liquids from entering your airway and getting into your lungs. If fluids enter the airway, it could lead to discomforts such as coughing, congestion, shortness of breath, and aspiration pneumonia.

What are the levels of thickness of thickened liquids?

Liquid consistencies greatly vary across different products. The International Dysphagia Diet Standardisation Initiative ( created a standardization for thickened liquids that includes five levels starting with zero:

0. Thin liquids (unthickened liquids such as water, coffee, tea, broth, skim milk)

1. Slightly Thick: (similar to V8 juice consistency)

2. Mildly Thick (nectar consistency)

3. Moderately Thick (honey consistency)

4. Extremely Thick (pudding consistency)

The IDDSI created the Flow Test so you can check the thickness accuracy of liquids in your own home. For example, you may think that your Ensure is a thickened liquid, but with the IDDSI Flow Test, it tests as only a thin liquid (level 0). You will need a 10ml Slip Tip Syringe to perform the flow test and can view the steps below.

What are the benefits of thick water and other thickened liquids?

  • Thick water or thickened liquids allow better control of the fluids in the mouth as the swallowing process takes place.
  • Studies have shown there is less of a chance of aspiration with thickened fluids for various reasons specific to the individual swallow.
  • Thickened liquids may allow the throat more time to initiate the beginning phase of swallowing, protecting the airway.
  • There are options for pre-thickened liquids that can be purchased to lessen the potential drawbacks that come with manual thickening of liquids.

Precautions of thickened liquids

  • Those who use thickened liquids are at a higher risk of dehydration, increasing the risk of other complications such as urinary tract infections.
  • Thick water and thickened liquids do not entirely eliminate the risk of aspiration.
  • For some, thick water or other thickened liquids are less favorable to the taste than thin liquids.
  • There are special considerations to consider when thickening liquids, such as clumping, thickening over time if left out, and the effects on blood sugar levels.
  • Thickening liquids requires effort and time if you are manually thickening liquids. Alternately, purchasing pre-thickened liquids can be expensive.

What can you do to improve the taste?

  • 12 pack of Boost Plus nutritional drinkThe more products you try, the more you will discover what you prefer. Many of the products on the market today use Xanthan gum, which helps prevent dry mouth and doesn’t change the taste of the liquid it is added to.
  • When adding a thickener to milk, it may be helpful to add a few drops of vanilla extract to bring back the flavor.
  • The best way to make tasty and naturally thick smoothies is to use a blender. Yogurt, a banana, or avocado can be used as thickening agents. You can add all sorts of fruits, protein powders, or supplements like Ensure or Boost in the nutritional value and taste.

Check out this recipe idea to make: Nutritious Smoothie.

Where to buy thick water and other thickeners?

At Personally Delivered, we carry a wide assortment of thickened liquids and pureed foods. Shop our online store, choose a few different types of thickened products, and start discovering what you like. If you need assistance with your selections, we have helpful Product Experts that can help guide you through the purchasing process.

Always consult with your doctor or nutritionist before taking on a new dietary plan. They will help you estimate the number of calories and protein you need and any dietary restrictions you should follow. If you have diabetes, it is also helpful to check with your doctor about your sugar/carbohydrate intake. Many natural fruits are loaded with sugar. They will also advise you on how thick your liquids and foods should be for safe swallowing.

Popular Thickened Liquids and Other Nutritional Products

Thick-It Clear Advantage Thickened Water, Honey Consistency

thick-it clear advantage thick water

Ensure Clear Therapeutic Nutrition

ensure clear carton

Thick And Easy Clear Thickened Beverages, Nectar Consistency

Thick And Easy Clear Thickened Beverages, Nectar Consistency

Boost Original Nutrition Shake

Boost Original Nutrition Shake
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Bowel Incontinence in Men

Bowel incontinence or fecal incontinence occurs when stool or gas unexpectedly leaks. Bowel incontinence can be as mild as unintentionally leaking stool when passing gas, to a full loss of controlling the bowels. Several contributing factors may cause bowel incontinence, and this condition can affect people of all ages, not just older men and women.

Common Causes of Bowel Incontinence in Men

Normal functioning of the rectum, anus, and nervous system are all required to maintain continence and hold stool from leaking.

Bowel incontinence in men is usually the result of a complex mixture of factors that contribute to a weakening of the muscles that control your sphincter, which is the ring of muscle that controls the opening and closing of the anus that helps hold stool and gas until it can be eliminated.

Some of the common causes of bowel incontinence include:

  • Constipation – Having three or fewer bowel movements in a single weak can significantly contribute to the weakening of the anus and intestines
  • Chronic diarrhea – When loose or watery bowel movements are experienced three or more times a day and last for more than a few days, severe constipation could signify a more serious underlying disease.
  • Prostate surgery – The first few weeks following prostate removal surgery (also known as prostatectomy), men may experience bowel incontinence due to the increased abdominal space with the loss of the prostate.
  • Anal sphincter muscle damage – If the ring of muscle that controls the opening and closing of the anus is damaged, involuntary stool leakage can happen.
  • Rectal prolapse – As a result of prolonged constipation or weakening of the pelvic floor muscles, rectal prolapse is when part of the rectum slips out of position and protrudes out of the anus.
  • Chronic laxative abuse – When a person becomes dependent on laxatives for a long time, the colon stops reacting and requires a larger dose to achieve a bowel movement. Internal organs can be damaged and lead to colon infections and Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
  • Nervous system disorders – Having a stroke, spinal cord injury, Parkinson’s disease, dementia, or Multiple sclerosis can damage the nervous system and affect the nerves that sense stool in the rectum or the ability to control the anal sphincter.
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) – Abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea are all symptoms of IBS that can lead to bowel incontinence.

Possible Treatments for Bowel Incontinence in Men

Some treatments can help bowel incontinence in men. Treatment choice depends on the cause and severity of the disease as well as the person’s motivation and general health. Commonly, conservative measures are used together, and if appropriate, surgery is carried out.

  • Diet changes – Keeping a daily food and beverage journal can help keep track of what type of foods may be causing your symptoms. Your doctor may refer you to a dietitian or nutritionist if needed.
  • Medications – Your doctor may prescribe or suggest over-the-counter medicines like bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol, Kaopectate) or loperamide (Imodium) if you have diarrhea. If you are constipated, stool softeners, laxatives, or fiber supplements (Metamucil or Citrucel) may improve your fecal incontinence by stimulating the colon to move stool.
  • Bowel retraining –  This type of treatment program includes daily training to help regulate bowel movements using diet, various techniques, and sometimes medication. The program will be different for everybody because each person responds differently. Your doctor will help you develop the best course of action that is suited for your unique needs.
  • Pelvic floor muscle strengthening – Your doctor may refer you to a physical therapist specializing in pelvic floor muscle exercises (Kegel exercises). Through tightening and relaxing your pelvic area, anus, and rectum, this type of activity will help increase muscle strength and bowel and gas control.
  • Surgery – In extreme or unmanageable cases, surgery can be carried out to improve bowel incontinence. Sphincteroplasty is a procedure that reconnects any anal sphincter tears that may have occurred from a man’s genitals or urinary area. Other surgery might treat other medical conditions that affect bowel incontinence, such as rectal prolapse or hemorrhoids.

Complications of Bowel Incontinence

Bowel Incontinence or fecal incontinence can be very stressful for those who experience it. It can cause emotional distress as well as skin irritation.

Emotional distress – When you lose control over your bodily functions, it can be embarrassing, frustrating, and depressing. This loss of dignity can lead to avoidance of social interaction and trying to hide the condition.

Skin irritation – When there is repeated contact with incontinence products such as toilet paper and personal care wipes, the sensitive and delicate perineal tissue around the anus can become irritated. This constant contact can lead to itching, pain, rashes, or potentially sores such as ulcers that require medical attention.

Managing Life with Bowel Incontinence

readiness essentials supplies for managing bowel incontinence in menYou can help manage bowel incontinence by always making sure to be well-stocked on bowel incontinence supplies, whether you are home or heading out. By following the bowel retraining program and using the toilet before you leave home, you can help lessen or possibly eliminate an embarrassing episode. You can also make sure you carry your medications, incontinence supplies, fecal deodorants, and a change of clothes with you.

The perineal tissue around the anus is sensitive and delicate.  Therefore, anal discomfort, itching, and irritation can be common. Here are some ways to help manage these symptoms:

Bowel incontinence in men is more common than you may think. You do not have to suffer in silence. Finding the right incontinence products for men and developing a plan with your doctor can help you overcome this condition and lead a life of dignity.

For questions about any of the bowel or fecal incontinence products or other incontinence supplies we carry, please give us a call or complete our Contact Us form. One of our Product Experts will be happy to help and guide you through your purchasing experience.

Popular Incontinence Products for Men

Prevail Men's Overnight Disposable Underwear

Item #PMX512 Prevail Men's Overnight Disposable Underwear

Depend Guards for Men

Item #13792 Depend Guards for Men

Cardinal Men's FlexRight Maximum Absorbency Protective Underwear

Cardinal Men's FlexRight Maximum Absorbency Protective Underwear

Sure Care Guards For Men

Item # M4034S-4211 Sure Care Guards For Men
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