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Patients on thickened fluids: How to take medicines safely

Patients on thickened fluids: How to take medicines safely

On a quiet Wednesday afternoon, Mr Parker's carer calls you at the community pharmacy. Mr Parker has been started on alendronic acid 70mg and his carer wants to know whether this can be crushed and given with a spoonful of yoghurt as he struggles to swallow his tablets. What do you suggest?

Which patients may require thickened fluids?

Dysphagia is difficulty swallowing and many conditions may cause this. These conditions include, but are not limited to: stroke, multiple sclerosis, dementia, mouth cancer and severe gastro-oesophageal reflux disease. The severity can range from difficulty swallowing to not being able to swallow at all.(1)

Signs of dysphagia include:

  • coughing or choking when eating or drinking
  • a sensation of food stuck in the throat or chest
  • being unable to chew properly
  • a wet sounding

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