Dysphagia is the medical term for difficulty in swallowing food and/or liquid. It is common among people who suffer from Parkinson’s disease, dementia, neck/throat cancer, stroke and brain injury/tumours. Dysphagia can be diagnosed through swallowing assessment by a speech therapist, who can then based on the diagnosis, advise on the:
type of food consistency (e.g. particle size, texture and thickness), and
type of fluid consistency (e.g. thickness of fluids) suitable for individuals with dysphagia to prevent aspiration pneumonia (i.e. food/liquid entering the lungs causing lung infection).
To ensure that they receive adequate nutrientsfrom their diets, people with dysphagia should also pay attention to their food and liquid intake. In severe cases of dysphagia, individuals will need to be fed via a feeding tube to avoid dehydration, malnutrition and infection-related complications.
There are three main types of texture-modified diets that are typically prescribed to people with dysphagia:
Coarsely minced / Easy-to-chew / Chopped
Finely minced / Soft and moist
Blended / Puree
For individuals requiring texture-modified diets, hard foods (e.g. fried chicken, crackers) will not be suitable for you.
* Healthcare institutions may use different criteria when it comes to measuring food particle size for different texture-modified diets. Consult a speech therapist for personalised advice as the extent of swallowing difficulty may vary between individuals.
#Adhere to the fluid consistency recommended by your speech therapist.
In addition, there are three main types of thickened liquids commonly prescribed to individuals with dysphagia:
Nectar-thick (e.g. avocado milkshake, lassi)
Honey-thick (e.g. flavoured yogurt without fruit pieces)
Pudding-thick (e.g. thick plain Greek yogurt)
For thin fluids like water, soup, coffee and tea, it is necessary to add thickener (e.g. Thixer, Resource ThickenUp Clear) to achieve the recommended fluid consistency.
Speak to a dietitian if you would like to discuss how to optimise your nutritional needs especially if you have dietary concerns related to pre-existing medical conditions.
About the Author: This article is written by Ong Sik Yin for Jaga-Me. Sik Yin holds a Master’s degree in Nutrition and Dietetics from Flinders University. She is an Accredited Dietitian of Singapore (Singapore Nutrition and Dietetics Association) and an Accredited Practising Dietitian (Dietitians Association of Australia). She is an advocate of building a supportive ecosystem and conducive environment to promote health and wellness. She has over 10 years of experience providing nutritional advice and sharing her knowledge in hospital settings and public forums.
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