Do you have trouble swallowing pills? Have you ever skipped a dose, or just buried the pill bottle in the back of the medicine drawer because you just can't choke them down? If so, you aren't alone. 40% of adults have trouble swallowing pills and 4% have even quit taking their medication because of the problem. Learn more about how to handle this frustrating situation.
Don't Cut Or Crush Medication Unless Permitted
Some pills have score marks that make it possible for you to cut them into smaller pieces, which can be easier to swallow. However, the majority of pills are supposed to be swallowed whole, and can't be safely cut or smashed.
A lot of pills are made in layers, which dissolve slowly, effectively delivering a continuous dose of the medication over a period of several hours. If you crush up the pill, you could get too much of the medication at once and overdose.
Other medications are formulated to release slowly so that your body can better absorb the contents. Your body may not be able to properly absorb more than a limited amount at any one time. When you crush the pill, you end up wasting a portion of the drug, because your body simply flushes it back out.
In addition, the residue from the pills - including tiny fragments of the shell - can end up in your lungs. Pulmonary aspiration can lead to serious complications, including pneumonia.
Try These Tricks Instead
Scientists think that a lot of people, absent any underlying swallowing difficulties, unconsciously tighten their throat muscles when they go to swallow medication out of fear that they'll gag and choke. It's a reflex action, but you can often trick yourself past it one or more ways:
- Turn your head to the side, which opens the esophagus a little more so you can swallow a pill.
- Put the pill in applesauce or pudding, which most people automatically swallow without chewing. The thick consistency of the food helps move the pill along.
- Lubricate your mouth both before and after you try to swallow the pill with water.
- Drop your chin, put the pill in your mouth, and then abruptly lift your head and tilt it backwards as you swallow, which can help open your esophagus and force the pill down.
- Swallow the pill with cold, carbonated soda. The cold and carbonation is distracting, which helps some people swallow.
What If The Pills Still Won't Go Down?
If you still can't get your medication down, don't panic. Talk to your doctor about having a compounding pharmacy prepare the medication for you in another form. Many medications can be made into liquid suspensions, topical creams, or lozenges, all of which solve the problem for those who have trouble swallowing pills.
Whatever you do, don't take dangerous measures (like crushing the pills) or give up your medication because you can't swallow the pills. There are other solutions, and your doctor and compounding pharmacist can help you find them. Contact a company like Camelback Pharmacy for more information.