“A hard pill to swallow” isn’t always a metaphor. Swallowing pills can be sometimes difficult and absolutely unpleasant. It might cause one in three people to gag, vomit, or choke. These unpleasantness might keep people from avoiding their prescribed medication – thus making them sicker.
Difficulty swallowing is also called dysphagia. It is usually a sign of a problem with your throat or esophagus muscular tube that moves food and liquids from the back of your mouth to your stomach. Although dysphagia can happen to anyone, it is most common in older adults, babies, and people who have problems of the brain or nervous system.
There are few tips and tricks which you can try to make the process of swallowing a bit easier.
If you have trouble taking your pills, try these helpful tips:
- Moisture makes pill surfaces slippery, easier to swallow and keeps pills from sticking to your mouth. Take a medium sip of cool water or juice just before swallowing the pill and gravity will help it go down.
- Check with your doctor to see which pills can be cut or crushed. Some pills should never be cut or crushed. For those that can, get a pill cutter and cut them into small pieces. Or crush the pills and mix them into applesauce.
- Instead of putting the pill on your mouth or throat, place it on the tip of your tongue and then take a sip of water or juice. Tilt your chin down toward your chest (looking down) so that the pill floats to the back of your mouth and swallow. Or, place the pill on the back of your tongue, sip a drink, then tip your head back and swallow.
- Avoid lying down for at least half an hour after taking your pill. Lying down immediately after taking a pill can make you feel like it’s stuck in your throat and can delay the pill’s journey to the stomach.
- Butter a small piece of bread and wrap the pill in it. Swallow the bread with the pill inside.
Do not overlook your phobia of swallowing a pill, and talk to your physician about your difficulty. At times, your physician may also suggest that you check with your ENT specialist. All tips to make swallowing easier may work out fine – but getting to treat or know the reason behind this difficulty will make things much easier for your future treatment.