Problems swallowing pills
Lots of people find it hard to swallow pills. There are things you can try to make it easier and a pharmacist can offer advice.
How to make it easier to swallow pills
take pills with water – you can take some pills with other drinks or food. Always read the instruction leaflet
lean forward slightly when you swallow
practice swallowing with small sweets or bits of bread – try bigger pieces as swallowing gets easier
do not throw pills towards the back of your throat
do not tip your head back too much when you swallow – this can make swallowing more difficult
do not crush pills, open capsules or alter your medicine without getting medical advice – this could stop the medicine working properly
Good pill swallowing techniques
Do not try these tips if you also have difficulty swallowing food and drink (not just pills), as you might choke. See a pharmacist or GP for advice.
A pharmacist can help if you cannot swallow pills
A pharmacist can advise you about:
- other versions of your medicine that might be available – for example, you might be able to get it as a liquid or dissolvable tablet
- crushing, dividing or opening up tablets and capsules – this should only be done on their advice
Causes of swallowing problems
Problems swallowing pills can be due to:
- fear of choking – this can make your throat tense and narrow when you try to swallow
- a dry mouth
- general swallowing difficulties (dysphagia) – for example, due to a condition such as a stroke
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