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What Are the Best Tips for Swallowing Pills?

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  • Written By: Marjorie McAtee
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 19 November 2016
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Swallowing pills can be difficult, even for adults. Some people might have trouble relaxing their throat muscles, and overcoming the gag reflex, long enough to swallow pills whole. Chewing pills, on the other hand, can have unpleasant consequences as some pills may damage tooth enamel if chewed, while others may lose their inherent time-release qualities. Tips for swallowing pills more comfortably include practicing pill-swallowing using small pill-sized mints or candies, and swallowing pills with liquid. Placing the pills on different parts of the tongue, breathing deeply to relax the throat muscles before swallowing, or tilting the head back can all help with pill-swallowing.

Most people find that pills are easiest to swallow with liquid. Using water, juice, or a carbonated beverage can help wash the pill down. Some people find that a sparkling beverage makes pills easier to swallow than a non-carbonated one. If sipping out of a glass doesn't help pills go down, some find that sipping through a drinking straw does the trick. Some people find that numbing the back of the throat with an over-the-counter antiseptic spray can help with swallowing pills.

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Some people find that pills are easiest to swallow from the tip of the tongue, with a gulp of liquid, and with the head tilted back. Others find pills easiest to swallow from the middle or back of the tongue, with a gulp of liquid, and with the head tilted forward. Some experimentation with these techniques may be necessary for most people struggling to swallow pills.

It can sometimes be easier to swallow pills if they are swallowed with a mouthful of food. Some pills shouldn't be taken with food, so it's generally a good idea to read the drug's warning label, or speak to a physician, before attempting to swallow pills with a mouthful of food. If the pill in question is able to be taken with food, the mouthful of food should generally be chewed first. The pill can then be placed in the mouth, and perhaps pressed into the food with the tongue, before it is swallowed. Most people who have problems swallowing pills don't have problems swallowing food, so this might be a good option for many.

Relaxation exercises can help relax the throat muscles and prevent gagging while swallowing pills, especially for those who suffer anxiety about gagging on pills. These exercises can be as simple as taking a few deep, slow breaths before attempting to swallow a pill. Relaxing music can help some people overcome nervousness about swallowing pills. Others use visualization techniques to imagine themselves swallowing pills effortlessly. Pill-swallowing skills can be practiced, substituting small candies or mints for actual medications.

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Phaedrus
Post 2

Unless the package says "chewable", I won't try to chew a pill before swallowing. It's usually way too bitter for words. I might open a capsule and mix it with food, but I won't bite down on a dry pill. My own method is to put the pill as far back in my mouth as I can, then snap my head back when I drink the water.

Cageybird
Post 1

I find that I need a lot of water whenever I have to swallow a pill. I concentrate on getting all of that water down and the pill just goes along for the ride. If I start thinking about the size of the pill or I feel it touch the back of my throat, that's when I start to panic.

I find that coated pills are far easier to swallow than a dry pill like aspirin. If I have to swallow a dry pill, I don't want it to stay on my tongue for very long. The coated pills usually just slide down without much trouble. The pills that cause me the most trouble are those huge multivitamin supplements or prescription antibiotics. We call those "horse pills" around my house.

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