For many people, swallowing a drink is something that requires little consideration or pre-planning. However, for people with swallowing difficulties, something as simple as swallowing a liquid can cause serious problems.
This means that some people need to have their drinks thinned or thickened to a certain viscosity to consume them safely. The issue here is that it can be difficult to know when the drink is at the right consistency… until now.
Step forward: Viscgo sticks.
What are Viscgo sticks?
Viscgo sticks are innovative tools that can be used by those who live with swallowing difficulties (dysphagia) to determine the thickness of their drinks.
The sticks are designed to fall or stand in a drink, depending on how thick it is. The way the sticks behave when in your drink will tell you whether it’s too thick, too thin or of the right consistency.
They’re coloured and numbered to match the corresponding drinks levels on the IDDSI framework (Level 1, 2 and 3). The sticks can be purchased in sets per IDDSI Level, and there’s also a starter pack designed for healthcare practitioners to use in care homes, hospitals and schools that covers Levels 1 to 3.
Why would you need to test the thickness of a drink?
If you or someone you care for has been advised to follow a Level 1, 2, or 3 IDDSI diet, drinks will often need to be thickened up to reach the necessary consistency.
Different types of drink, and the same drink at different temperatures, require different amounts of thickener to reach the same consistency. So hot coffee, orange juice at room temperature and ice-cold milk may each require a different amount of thickener to reach the same level of thickness.
Sometimes a drink may be too thin or too thick, and this can be very problematic for people who require a specific thickness, perhaps because of an underlying health condition.
In this case, it’s important to be able to effectively test how thick or thin a drink is.
Watch this video to learn more about why it’s important to test the thickness of each drink:
How to use Viscgo sticks
You can use Viscgo sticks to measure the thickness of any drink thickened with gum-based thickener and to understand which IDDSI Level it is. Watch the video or read the instructions below to learn how to use the sticks to test your drink and ensure it’s at the required thickness.
Testing for IDDSI Level 1 (Slightly Thick)
To test a drink is at the right consistency for IDDSI Level 1, stand both of the grey sticks in the drink and let go.
- If both sticks fall within 10 seconds, the drink is too thin for Level 1 (and is therefore Level 0)
- If both sticks remain standing, the drink is too thick for Level 1
- If the MAX stick falls within 10 seconds but the MIN stick remains standing, the drink is the correct thickness for Level 1
Testing for IDDSI Level 2 (Mildly Thick)
To test a drink is the required consistency for IDDSI Level 2, stand both of the pink sticks in the drink and let go.
- If both sticks fall within 10 seconds, the drink is too thin for Level 2
- If both sticks remain standing, the drink is too thick for Level 2
- If the MAX stick falls within 10 seconds but the MIN stick remains standing, the drink is the correct thickness for Level 2
Testing for IDDSI Level 3 (Moderately Thick)
To test a drink is the required consistency for IDDSI Level 3, stand the yellow stick in the drink and let go.
Note: there is no Level 3 MAX stick. This is because if a drink is too thick to pour, it’s too thick for Level 3.
- If the stick falls within 10 seconds, the drink is too thin for Level 3
- If the drink is too thick to pour, it is too thick for Level 3
- If the stick remains standing AND the drink can be poured, it is a suitable thickness for Level 3
Always consult a Healthcare or Medical Professional about your personal circumstances before making any changes to your diet and to confirm which IDDSI level you may require.