If you’re having some difficulties in swallowing pills, you’re not alone in this ordeal. Tons of adults and kids alike have trouble taking medication, especially big pills like fish oils and pre-natals. Don’t worry you’re not alone – according to the research done by the University of Heidelberg, 1 in every 11 primary care patients have difficulties in swallowing pills in both tablet and capsule form. This case is called “Dysphagia”, and it affects millions of people in the world. To get around swallowing those horse size pills the pharma and whole health industry produces requires a little mental trickery.
Let’s Talk About “Dysphagia”
There are a lot of possible reasons why some people hate taking medications. One popular reason is the fear of getting the medicine stuck in the throat which can lead to choking. Another common reason is extreme sickness, in which the patient cannot take medication orally due to weakness. Some people are simply not fond of medicine’s bitter taste.
But most cases of pill-swallowing difficulties are usually associated with Dysphagia, which is a medical term for cases of difficulty in swallowing. This condition doesn’t have a specific cause and usually co-exists with other health problems such as Scleroderma, Achalasia, and Esophageal stricture. However, the occurrence higher on adults due to the effects of esophagus wear and tear from aging.
Dysphagia: Complications And Effects To Medication
The difficulty to swallow gives a wide range of problems such as poor diet, dehydration. and choking. However, its biggest impact is usually seen on affected people that need to take some form of medication. Due to difficulty in swallowing, the patient might skip or completely omit to take his or her capsules and pills. Skipping medication can lead to the following complications:
- Delayed effect
- Failed treatment
- Withdrawal symptoms (for antidepressants)
- Prolonged infection
- Development of other ailments
Dysphagia should not be the reason for failed treatments or additional complications. There are ways to combat this condition and make swallowing pills more bearable. If taking pills with water isn’t working for you, here are six proven tricks that can make your life a lot easier.
4 Products That Can Help In Swallowing Pills
Designed to make pill swallowing as smooth as possible, these cups are one of the most effective products in this category. Its also kid-friendly, as you can use any kind of liquid, as long as it will not destroy tablet or capsule coating. To use, put the pill inside the mouthpiece and drink. The flow of water will push the pill down, making it easier for the patient to swallow.
Have you experienced sipping on your milk tea (or any other drink with pearls) and accidentally swallowing a single boba pearl? That’s what happens when you use specialized pill swallowing straw. These straws are designed to be used on both capsules and tablets. In addition, this straw reduces gagging, choking, and lessens the aftertaste. Just like the cup, you can use any liquid that you prefer when using this product.
(Bonus: Using jumbo boba straws to drink down a pill isn’t a bad idea! It’s cheaper that’s for sure.)
Products such as lubricant gels and lubricant spray are also used by a lot of patients. To make things easier, pill coating devices are also developed to aid in the process. The patient would just have to push slip the tablet into the device and push through the applicator responsible for coating the pill with flavor.
Some patients will need to open the capsule or cut the tablets to swallow their medications. A pill splitter is essentially a mini guillotine for pills whereas a pill crusher is a pepper grinder device that mashes up solid pills. The powder from the crusher can be added to smoothies and beverages.
Pill splitters can be found anywhere from Walgreens to Dollar Tree to Wal-Mart. Be careful not to go too cheap on an accurate pill-splitter. Some pills are difficult to cut and could leave jagged edges that are too sharp (very small chance of jaggily sliced pills cutting your insides on it’s way down.) The Dollar Store pill splitters didn’t work for my family despite the cost savings.
Bonus hack: Try to drink it down with some flavor beverage such as 100% Pom juice or sparkling water. Pills and medications tend to have an off-taste (some antibiotics taste like wet dog!) which could encourage your gagging reflexes – but using your favorite delicious flavored beverage could easily mask the faint medication taste. Just don’t take any medicaiton with alchohol of course!
6 Tricks To Make Pills Swallowing Easier
1. The Pop-Bottle Method (For Tablets)
In the same study from the University Of Heidelberg, researchers found out that there are better techniques to swallow pills depending on the type. For tablets, the Pop-Bottle method is more preferred because tablets are usually denser than the water.
First, you need to fill a plastic container with just enough water to get the job done. Pop the tablet into your mouth and put the bottle opening next to your tightly-sealed lips. Tilt your head upward and use a sucking motion to flush the tablet down.
2. Lean-Forward Technique (For Capsules)
The Lean-forward technique is another method to help patients who are having trouble in swallowing their pills. This technique is specifically designed for capsules due to the water being denser. It helps in preventing the capsule from swimming around, making it harder to swallow.
To do this method, but the capsule in your tongue and sip enough water without swallowing. Next, tilt your chin toward your chest. With this position, you should have an easier time swallowing capsules. Finish the method by swallowing both the water and the capsule.
3. Adding Soft Food
One of the reasons why its physically troublesome for some people to swallow pills is because of mental conditioning. According to Leanne Goldberg from Mount Sinai Hospital, humans are conditioned to chew solid substances that go to our body orally. It will take some training in order to relax the throat and swallow a pill. If you want to “trick” your own brain to do so, you should consume food that you’re used to swallowing. Adding soft food like pudding or applesauce has been proven to work well with this method. Not only will it make the pill slide down easier, but it will also mask the aftertaste that some medications have.
4. “Make A Pose”
Although the “Lean-Forward” and “Pop-Bottle” methods have a high success rate, these methods will not work on all people. If these methods don’t work, one of the things you can try is to practice with different head postures. A study made by Canadian researchers stated that kids who have difficulties in swallowing pills improved by doing their favorite head posture for 14 days and were able to overcome their swallowing difficulties.
5. Practice Makes Everything Perfect
Pill swallowing problems are often remedied by taking a mental shift and helping the throat relax during medication taking. Unless the Dysphagia is caused by another medical condition, the case can be cured with proper mindset and training. For kids, a good practice habit is by swallowing small candies. Practicing with breath fresheners is a method that adults can
6. Drink Plenty Of Water Before Medication
Drinking water before swallowing your pills is another way to help your throat handle your medication. What the water does is that it lubricates the throat, making the capsule or tablet slide easier. Doctors also recommend keeping drinking water after swallowing. This helps push the pill to go straight to your tummy.
7. Use Pill Swallowing Products
If you’re still having some difficulties in taking your pills, using pill-swallowing aids might answer your problem. The most common examples f these products are pill swallowing cup, straw, and coating devices. You don’t have to search that far because these products are available in most of the pharmacies. What makes this option very helpful is the fact that you’ll only need to buy once and use the item until they break.