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I didn’t even realize people had such an aversion to swallowing pills until I needed to convince my eight-year old to swallow his medication!
What is up with that fear? Is it the fear of choking? Is it the bitter taste? Is it the fear of getting the pill stuck to the back of your throat? If yes to any of these, then this is a legitimate fear. Have you ever had a pill stuck back there? It is both nasty tasting and painful!
I surveyed for the best answers on how to overcome that fear of swallowing pills, and here are the ones that worked for us.
1. Don’t crush it up to add to food. Many medications are time-released, meaning they slowly dissolve at a reasonable rate and absorb into our bodies as they go through our digestive tract. Unless your doctor says otherwise, let’s just assume crushing your pills instead of swallowing them whole is dangerous.
2. Don’t tip your head back, tip it forward! If you are swallowing your pill with water, place pill towards the back of the tongue, take a large amount of water into your mouth, tip your head forward so the pill naturally floats to the back of your throat. A large gulp will help you focus on the water and not the pill.
3. My husband’s method is to take a drink first to relax the esophagus, then take the pill and swallow with more water. If you are having anxiety about taking the pill, the muscles in your throat will tense up, making it harder to swallow, so drink a few swallows before even placing the pill in your mouth to loosen those muscles. The next swallow with the pill will go down more easily.
4. Chew crackers, bread, chips, or pretzels down to a mush first. Then add the pills to your mouth right before you swallow. The pill better blends in with the food (don’t chew the actual pill!), and eating a bread product helps a lot with masking the pill. (Note: some people say that taking it with milk or yogurt helps them the most, but you will need to check the medication instructions, because calcium may reduce the absorption of the pill, so check to see if taking with dairy is allowed.)
5. Blast it with a straw. If you have a drink in a cup with a straw (eg, soda pop), place pill towards back of mouth and drink through the straw. Otherwise known as the “fire hose” method. (Not really; I made that up.)
6. In the instance that your child’s medication is very expensive, and you can’t afford them to spit it out, have them practice first. Things they can practice with include canned corn kernels, Tic Tacs, or mini M&Ms.
I hope at least one of these tips helps you or someone you know get over the fear and anxiety of swallowing pills. Let me know in the comments below which of these methods worked for you. If you have an additional methods to add, please also comment below!