Hate Swallowing Pills? These 5 Tips Might Help
Swallowing a pill can feel awkward and even intimidating. If you struggle to swallow pills comfortably, here are a few helpful tips.
Overcoming Your Fear
Swallowing is a more complicated process than many people realize. The nerves have to work together in your throat, mouth, and esophagus to move food or liquid from the mouth into the digestive tract.
Very few of us take the time to think about the reflexes associated with swallowing -- that is, until we have to swallow a pill. When you overthink things, they get more difficult.
Understanding the 'Globus Sensation'
The 'globus sensation' is a type of tightness you may experience in your throat when trying to swallow a pill. It isn't a physical problem, but rather a form of stress or anxiety. Just thinking about it may actually make your throat begin to feel tight.
In reality, the swallowing process is pretty automatic. It actually gets easier if you don't focus on it too much. Here are a few constructive strategies to help ease your anxiety and make the process go smoother.
5 Pill Swallowing Strategies to Try
1. Drink Lots of Water
We are starting with the basics here, but it is one of the easiest ways to do it. Swallow a pill while drinking plenty of water.
Some people find that taking a big drink of water prior to putting the pill in the mouth is beneficial. Think about swallowing the pill before you actually try.
If you feel as if you can't swallow or if you begin gagging, remove the pill carefully and dry it with a paper towel. Try again in a few minutes.
2. Try a Soda Bottle
German researchers 2 began experimenting with the pop bottle method to help people swallow dense tablets. It is not a method that works well with capsules, because they weigh less than water.
To use the pop bottle method, fill a water bottle with a narrow opening full of water. Put the pill on your tongue, put the water bottle up to your mouth and close your lips around the opening.
The pressure from the narrow opening of the water bottle will force the water down your throat while you swallow. Approximately 60% of the people who tried this method found that it helped 3.
3. Lean Forward
Many people lean back to take a pill, but leaning forward may actually help. Start with your shoulders back and your chin up when you put the pill in your mouth. Take a small sip of water and then quickly move your head forward while swallowing.
This method may help because it moves the pill toward the back of the throat when you tilt your head forward. It also helps to take your mind off of swallowing a pill. 88% of those who were studied found that this method improved their ability to swallow pills 3.
4. Hide It in a Teaspoon of Soft Food (Applesauce, Pudding, Etc.)
You may be able to trick your brain into swallowing a pill if you hide it in a spoonful of something that you typically swallow whole.
Of course, you would not use this method if you are taking a pill that shouldn't be taken with food. Some will lose their effectiveness if you do so.
Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you can use this method, and then give it a try.
5. Use a Straw
Some people find it easier to swallow a pill when they wash it down using a straw. Sucking the liquid up provides a reflex motion and sealing the straw off with the lips can help you to get the medication down.
There are also specialized straws specifically manufactured to make it easier to take pills.
Still having trouble swallow your vitamin supplements? Try taking chewable vitamin gummies instead.
1. New Zealand Medical Devices Safety Authority | Helping Medicine Capsules Go Down, May 2003
2. NPR | Trouble Swallowing Pills? Try The 'Pop Bottle' Or The 'Lean Forward', November 11, 2014
3. Two Techniques to Make Swallowing Pills Easier, 2014 12:498-499