Liquid thickener!

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Hi All

It has been a while since I asked a stupid question so . . . 

I finished my treatment last March & have been battling to get back to my former "magnificent" self. Whilst foods have been difficult to impossible at times I have not used my PEG in months & am maintaining my weight without the need for supplement drinks


The cancer team (speech & language etc) have concerns that after drinking I am clearing my throat & following xrays whilst eating & drinking they are worried about liquid trying to get to my lungs rather than going down to my stomach, which may cause a serious chest infection, thankfully I have not had any hint of this so far & I am in rude health.

So they have recommended I thicken all drinks & have given me "thicken up" to add to liquids. Whilst I can't deny that this has helped my need to clear my throat I was wondering if you lovely lot have any experience or advice on this?

I only got the thickener yesterday but making tea & coffee towards the end it is like tapioca. Apparently you can put it in beer but it will make it froth like mad.

Will it be something that I am potentially using long term?

All advice welcome thank you all as ever

Stay strong, stay well x 

  • I must say that for a long time I did this throat clearing thing and sometimes if I didn't concentrate on swallowing liquids I did cough.  I suspected that I was on the cusp of aspirating but I was madly fearful of going down the tube feed route again so I doubled down on my swallow exercises and everything seems OK now


    Base of tongue cancer. T2N0M0 6 weeks Radiotherapy finished January 2019

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  • Hiya,

    I have been prescribed Nestle Resource Thicken up Clear. 

    It helps me to avoid coughing with thin liquids. I have found that a quite small amount of thickener, well mixed in, is just enough to slow my swallow without leaving lots of thick residue at the bottom of the drink.

    I have been referred for (non-urgent) fluoroscopy/swallow study to try and work out what is wrong with my swallow. It's not all that serious a problem for me, but it was putting me off drinking thinner liquids.

    Hope it works out for you.


    Diagnosed Feb 2023 with base of tongue cancer, oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OPSCC), HPV positive, staging: T4aN2CM0

  • Hi ChemoChaos

    I have the throat clearing and coughing problem when I drink thin fluids too. I have found drinking slightly thicker fluids such as milk based drinks does not have the same effect and I manage them O.K. I did go to the chemist and buy a thickening powder used in baby formulas and this works quite well in water. It does not seem to thicken up too much only if left for a while. Maybe you don't need the fluid you drink to be thickened to the extent that it is so thick that it is like jelly but only slightly thickened. Perhaps try less powder to reduce the amount of thickness and see if that works better. Not sure about thickening beer but I would definitely experiment with that if it is something you really enjoy drinking.

    Best wishes