Living with Dysphagia

Living with Dysphagia

Fresenius Kabi has the widest range of Dysphagia products to meet all of our patients' needs. 

Being diagnosed with Dysphagia can sometimes feel overwhelming. 

Thickeners can be used to thicken all kinds of drinks, hot and cold, sweet or savoury, from soup to wine, lemonade to coffee. You can use even thickeners to create some delicious smoothies, see the recipe section or visit https://www.dysphagia.org.uk/ for inspiration! You will also find some really useful tips such as exercises that can help strengthen your swallow. 

All of Fresenius Kabi's Dysphagia products are classified according to the International Dysphagia Diet Standardisation Initiative (IDDSI).

What is Dysphagia

Dysphagia describes any difficulty or pain in eating, drinking or swallowing and affects people with a range of conditions1.

Dysphagia could be a side effect of a condition such as a Stroke, Motor Neurone Disease (MND), Multiple Sclerosis (MS), learning disabilities, Dementia, Parkinson's disease, head and neck injury or cancer2.

Muscle weakness, problems with attention and concentration, balance difficulties and poor co-ordination can also affect your ability to swallow. 

Difficulty swallowing not only means that you are at risk of dehydration, there is also a risk that food or drink may go into your lungs instead of your stomach. 

1. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), Nutrition support for adults: oral nutrition support, enteral tube feeding and parenteral nutrition: NICE Guideline [CG32]. 2017. Available from: https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/cg32 [Accessed 1st December 2017]
2. http://dysphagia.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/TE_ ResourcePack.pdf

How could a thickener help me to stay hydrated?

Thick & Easy Clear

Thickeners are used to modify the consistency of drinks, helping people with dysphagia to control the way they swallow.

They give everyday food a thicker consistency; making meals, snacks and drinks easier and safer to enjoy. 

There are various levels of thickness that a liquid can be mixed to, your Speech and Language Therapist or Dietitian will have indicated which level of thickness is recommended for you. 

Thick & Easy Clear:

  • Encourages fluid intake, therefore reducing the risk of dehydration

  • Doesn’t alter the natural appearance, taste or texture of drinks3

  • Lessens the fear of swallowing


3. Fresenius Kabi data on file – Thick & Easy Clear – Acceptability Study Report Sept 2014. Date accessed: November 2017

How to mix Thick & Easy™ Clear

Step 1: Add level measured thickener into an empty, dry glass

Step 2: Measure the desired amount of liquid

Step 3: Add the liquid quickly while stirring briskly with a whisk or fork, until dissolved

How to mix Thick & Easy Clear

Thickening larger quantities: Thick & Easy Clear can be mixed into liquids using a food processor or blender. Keep liquid refrigerated until ready to use. 

To aid palatability, you may need to prepare drinks weaker than normal, and some drinks may take longer to reach consistency. For example, milky drinks: scoop Thick & Easy Clear into a dry cup, pour in the milk and whisk briskly for 30 seconds, then leave to stand for 5 minutes. 

Thick & Easy Clear can be used to thicken fruit juice, coffee, tea, alcoholic drinks, meat stock or any other liquid.

Walter Watermann's guide to mixing Thick & Easy Clear

Thick & Easy™ Original

The original thickener

Thick & Easy Original is a starch-based thickener which can be used to alter the consistency of foods.

It can be used to thicken typically softer, crumbly foods such as bread, cakes and biscuits, or to thicken pureed fruits and vegetables to avoid liquid separation and maintain the visual appeal of foods. These foods can also be frozen for convenience, with no liquid separation during defrosting or reheating.

Thick & Easy Original is taste-neutral. With smaller particles, using Thick & Easy Original will not affect the flavours of thickened foods, helping to provide a more palatable, enjoyable experience for patients with dysphagia.

Thick & Easy Original

Tips and tricks

When managing your Dysphagia from home, there are ways that you can help yourself to get the nutrition and hydration you need while also minimising the risks associated with Dysphagia.

  • Always make sure that you sit upright in a 90-degree position to eat and drink if you can, it is best to eat all meals at a table to ensure proper posture and less slouching 
  • Always make sure to set aside some time to eat your meal. Rushing through a meal can increase the risk of choking and aspiration (when food or liquid makes its way into the lungs)
  • Take small, manageable bites of food
  • Take small sips of water while eating to help with swallowing but never take large gulps. If you are drinking too much while eating, this can also make you feel full before you have eaten enough of a meal
  • Make sure to chew food thoroughly and that your mouth is clear before taking another bite
  • Don't talk with food in your mouth; not only is it unpleasant for those around you, but it can also increase the risk of choking 
  • Try to sit upright for at least 30 minutes after you have finished a meal to ensure that food goes down correctly

What is IDDSI?

The International Dysphagia Diet Standardisation Initiative (IDDSI) was founded to develop the international standardisation terminology to describe texture-modified foods and thickened liquids used by people with Dysphagia. 

Why Change?

The IDDSI Committee found that a number of countries had developed their own range of Dysphagia standards using different labels, numbers and levels. People with Dysphagia may come across a confusing array of terminologies for any one thickness of drink such as Nectar, Syrup, Level 150, and Mildly Thick. 

The IDDSI Committee has created a universal Dysphagia diet framework consisting of 8 levels for food and drink. Within this framework, liquids are now defined as - thin (Level 0), slightly thick (Level 1), mildly thick (Level 2), moderately thick (Level 3), and extremely thick (Level 4).

To find out more about IDDSI click here

IDDSI Framework