Objective To determine what beverage best masks the smell and taste of acetylcysteine (NAC).
Methods A 5% solution of NAC was prepared using the following five diluents: water (W), FrescaTM (F), Coca ColaTM (CC), cranberry juice (CJ), chocolate milk (CM). Subjects used a 10 cm visual analog scale (VAS) to rate the smell and taste for each 5% solution with the left margin representing a non-offensive odor or taste and the right margin representing a very offensive odor or taste. For the taste portion, approximately 10 mL of each 5% solution was placed in a cup with a lid and straw. Each subject tasted each solution in a different order than for smell. The subjects ate soup crackers between each taste test to limit carryover between solutions. The difference in VAS for taste and smell was measured using the Kruskal-Wallis ranked sum test. Multiple comparisons were performed using the Mann Whitney U test with the Bonferoni correction with significance at p < .005.
Results A total of 42 subjects participated in the study. The mean VAS score (cm) for smell and taste, respectively, of each dilutent was (F) 1.1738, 4.2833; (CC) 2.6405, 7.2714; (CJ) 3.9762, 8.1786; (W) 4.1071, 7.7810; and (CM) 5.1286, 8.076. F was rated as the least offensive diluent with respect to smell by 22 (53.7%) of subjects and taste by 33 (78.6%). CM was rated as the most offensive beverage with respect to smell by 22 (53.7%) and to taste by 11 (26.2%). CJ was rated the most offensive taste by 12 (28.6%) of subjects. The VAS score for F was statistically lower than all other beverages with respect to both smell and taste (p < .005).
Conclusion NAC diluted with F to a 5% solution had the least offensive odor and taste and should be considered as an option when administering oral NAC to adults.
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