Sometimes your prescription medication or multivitamins are not easy pills to swallow and for many people, it can become a real problem. Physical difficulties, a fear of choking or worrying the tablet will get stuck can all create difficulties when it comes to taking your pill.
But it doesn’t have to be so frustrating, as there are some techniques you can try to help that pill go down more smoothly. Here are four ways to make swallowing tablets much easier.
What can cause a fear of swallowing pills?
The physical act of swallowing is more complicated than it looks and the whole process – which sees nerves in your mouth, throat and oesophagus work together – is intended to safely move food, liquids, and tablets to where they need to be.
In most cases, this process is a subconscious act but when it comes to a pill, which needs to be swallowed whole, you may start to overthink it all, triggering what is called the globus sensation. Triggered by stress, fear, or emotion, the globus sensation manifests as a tightening in the throat, making swallowing that pill all the more difficult.
There are also some physical conditions, including dysphagia, stroke or Parkinson’s disease which can make the act of swallowing even harder. These conditions may need medical intervention or support. But if you just find the thought of swallowing a tablet a challenge, then there are some easy techniques you can adopt to get that pill to go down.
- Lean forward
As a simple strategy for occasional issues with swallowing pills, this technique aims to move the pill towards your throat, making it easier to go down.
To start, hold your chin up and pop the tablet into your mouth. Now take a sip of water, then quickly tilt your head forward as you swallow, and the pill should move towards the back of your throat. This puts it in the optimum position to smoothly pass into the gullet and on its way.
- Drink water
Using water as a lubricant is a widely known tactic when it comes to taking your medication, supplements, or multivitamins but there is one specific way to get the desired outcome. And that involves taking a big swig of water before you pop the pill into your mouth instead of rinsing it down.
This preps your throat by getting it wet and helps to prevent that stuck pill sensation when you swallow. But it does need to be good old H2O as other drinks such as fruit juice can interact with some medication.
- Use a pop bottle
Best used with tablets, rather than capsules, this method helps to give a boost to your swallow by using a plastic pop or water bottle. Fill the bottle with water so there’s little or no air inside before popping the pill onto your tongue.
Now place the bottle opening in your mouth and close your lips around it, tilt your held back and suck in the water. As you swallow, the pressure built up in the narrow bottle opening helps to force the water – and by association, the pill – down.
- Practise swallowing
And finally, here is a simple method that can be particularly effective for children who may be fearful of swallowing a hard tablet as it helps them to develop a safe tablet swallowing technique.
Take something small and benign – a chocolate sprinkle or a small piece of raisin – and place it on their tongue before giving them some water to sip and swallow. Once they are comfortable swallowing the sprinkle, move onto something a little bigger and more pill-sized, such as a small chocolate chip and repeat the swallow practice until they are comfortable with the process and the swallowing sensation.
However, if any of these techniques don’t work and you or your child continue to struggle with swallowing pills, then always speak to your GP for professional medical advice.