Variations in tongue-palate swallowing pressures when swallowing xanthan gum-thickened liquids

Catriona M. Steele, Sonja M. Molfenter, Melanie Péladeau-Pigeon, Rebecca C. Polacco, Clemence Yee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Thickened liquids are frequently recommended to reduce the risk of aspiration in patients with oropharyngeal dysphagia. Although it has previously been reported that tongue-palate pressures increase when swallowing spoon-thick and semi-solid consistencies compared to thin liquids, relatively little is known about how swallowing behaviors differ when swallowing liquids of nectaror honey-thick consistency. Furthermore, previous studies have primarily used starch-based thickeners, and little is known about swallowing behaviors with xanthan gumthickened liquids, which have recently been introduced for dysphagia management. In this study, we measured variations in tongue-palate pressures during the swallowing of liquids thickened to apparent viscosities of 190, 250, and 380 mPa s at 50/s using increasing concentrations of xanthan gum (0.5, 0.63 and 0.87 w/w%). The viscosity differences between these nectar- and honey-thick stimuli were confirmed to exceed sensory perceptual discrimination thresholds. Data were collected from 78 healthy adults in two sex-balanced age-groups (young; mature) and compared to reference values obtained during water swallowing. The results confirm that increased amplitudes of tongue-palate pressure were used when swallowing the thickened liquid stimuli, compared to swallows of water, and for the honey-thick liquid compared to the two nectarthick liquids. Age-related reductions were seen in tongue strength but not in swallowing pressures, which fell below 40 % of maximum isometric pressure values. Thus, the use of xanthan gum-thickened liquids is unlikely to tax the swallowing system in terms of tongue pressure generation requirements, even in seniors with reduced maximum isometric tongue pressure measures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)678-684
Number of pages7
Issue number6
StatePublished - Aug 3 2014


  • Deglutition
  • Deglutition disorders
  • Swallowing
  • Tongue
  • Tongue pressure
  • Viscosity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Speech and Hearing


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