Understanding why people take medicines with soft food or thickened fluid

Karoline Brennan, Senior Medicines Information Pharmacist, North West Medicines Information CentrePublished Last updated See all updates

Giving medicines this way can be a safe and practical option for people with swallowing difficulties, with their knowledge and consent.

Patient choice and needs

Patients unable to swallow

People who are unable to swallow medicines whole, or who do not like taking tablets, may prefer to take crushed tablets or capsule contents with food or thickened fluid, than with water.

Patients who need thickened fluids

Giving medicines with soft fluid and thickened fluid is a practical and safe option for people who need thickened fluids or texture-modified foods:

  • People who need thickened fluids cannot safely swallow thin liquid medicines or medicines with or dispersed in water.
  • Thickened fluids travels more slowly, allowing the patient more time to co-ordinate their swallow response.
  • Administering medicines with food or fluid of the appropriate texture is generally a safe and practical option for people who need thickened fluids or texture-modified foods.
  • Soft food is more palatable than thickened fluids. Patients who need thickened fluids are likely to prefer to take medicines with soft food of the appropriate texture.

Administration options

Overt administration

  • Medicines should be administered in food with the patient’s knowledge and consent, and following the recommendations of food texture by the speech and language therapist.

Covert administration

Other specific areas

Preparing medicines for administration to adults with swallowing difficulties

How to disperse tablets in water, crush tablets and open capsules safely for adults with swallowing difficulties.

Giving medicines safely with food or thickened fluid

Use food and fluid of correct consistency or texture (IDDSI level) and that does not interact with the medicine; our tips help you achieve this for patients.

Learn more

Swallowing difficulties

All our advice on using medicines safely and effectively in patients with swallowing difficulties

Change history

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  1. 'General advice' removed as duplicated summary
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