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You are here: Home > Health Tips > Easier Pill Swallowing
Easier Pill Swallowing
Mark Stengler, ND La Jolla Whole Health Clinic
A national survey revealed that more than 40% of adults have problems swallowing pills... and among those who do, 14% have delayed taking a dose of medication and 8% have skipped a dose completely.
Concern: Delaying or skipping doses of supplements or medications can increase the risk for illness or even death. If you find it difficult to swallow pills, try these strategies...
To lubricate the throat and relax tense muscles, before putting the pill in your mouth, drink some warm water and then take several deep breaths.
Suck on an ice cube or frozen treat right before taking a pill. The numbing effect suppresses the gag reflex.
Put one pill at a time on the tip of your tongue, take a mouthful of water, then tilt your head back slightly and swallow the pill along with the water.
Crush tablets or open up capsules, then mix the powder into food, such as applesauce, or stir it into a beverage, such as juice.
 
Caution: Check with your doctor or pharmacist first. Drugs designed to be time-released must be swallowed whole or they will enter your system too quickly. For example, crushing the blood pressure drug nifedipine (Procardia) can cause dizziness or headache and increase the risk for stroke or heart attack... crushing morphine could lead to a fatal overdose.
 
Cut pills in half with a pill cutter ($3 to $7 at drugstores). Again, check with your doctor or pharmacist first to see if a particular pill is safe to cut. Ask your doctor if the medication or supplement is available as a liquid, skin patch or topical cream -- so you don't have to deal with pills at all.