We’ve all been there. You’re at the doctor’s office, and they hand you a prescription for a new medication. You get home, open the bottle, and realize you have to take a pill. But then you can’t get the pill down. It seems like no matter how much water you drink, the pill just won’t go down.
We all know that taking those pills can sometimes be a challenge. Whether they are big or small, hard or soft, most of us have had trouble swallowing a pill at some point.
So why is it so difficult, and is there any way to make it easier?
Reasons for swallowing difficulties
There are a few reasons why pills can be hard to swallow:
- First, the pill may be too big and hard.
- Second, the pill may be extra dry or sticky, making it hard to get down.
- Third, some pills have an unpleasant taste.
- Fourth, some people may psychologically have a hard time relaxing their throat muscles to allow the pill to pass.
- And fifth, there may be an underlying medical condition that may prevent proper swallowing and need medical attention.
15 Tricks to help you swallow your pills
Knowing the reasons, we propose 15 “tricks” to help you swallow your pills. Always consult with your physician or pharmacist before trying to apply any of those techniques:
1 – Wet your mouth with water before taking the pill. This will help to lubricate your throat and make it easier to swallow.
2 – Tilt your head back and take a deep breath before swallowing the pill. This will help to open up your throat.
3 – Try to tilt your head back and drink from a straw and try to swallow the pill.
4 – Contact a compounding pharmacy (if you live in Calgary, AB, Chaparral Pharmacy can help you with that). A compounding pharmacy can prepare and compound your medicines in different forms, such as small capsules, suspension, or foam, or maybe add some flavour to your medicine to make it more subconsciously appealing to you.
5 – Break the pill into pieces. You have to ask your doctor or pharmacist since not every medicine can be broken into pieces, or it may lose its effectiveness or even cause harm (some diabetes medications can tolerate that process, while some high blood pressure medications cannot).
6 – If it is a capsule, try to empty its ingredients in a cup of water. Again, you have to ask your pharmacist before doing that.
7 – Place the pill on your tongue and push it back with your tongue. This will help to trigger your gag reflex and help you to swallow the pill.
8 – Take a sip of water and then immediately swallow the pill. This will help to wash the pill down your throat.
9 – Don’t directly swallow the water with the pill, instead try to swirl the water in your mouth before you swallow.
10 – Swallow the pill with a mouthful of water. This will help to push the pill down your throat.
11 – Try to take the pill with some food. This may help to mask the pill with the food and make you subconsciously swallow it.
12 – Take a deep breath and hold it while you swallow the pill. This will help to keep your throat open while you swallow.
13 – Swallow the pill with your head tilted to the side. This will help to keep the pill from sticking to the side of your throat.
14 – Drink a glass of water after you swallow the pill. This will help to flush the pill down your throat and into your stomach.
15 – Use a pill-swallowing device/cup. You have to consult your physician before using this kind of cup.
If you still have difficulty swallowing your pills, talk to your doctor or pharmacist (You can call Chaparral Pharmacy at 403-475-5544). They may be able to recommend a different pill/medicine (therapeutically equivalent or just another brand) or another different way to take the pill, or you may have an underlying condition that prevents you from swallowing and needs to be treated.