A Doctor Explains The Easiest Way To Swallow Pills

According to WebMD, one in three people have problems swallowing pills. Some of it stems from a fear of choking, and yet other people might have dysphagia, which is difficulty in coordinating the throat and jaw to swallow (via Harvard Medical School). Some pills might be more difficult to swallow (no pun intended). If you take metformin for diabetes, fish oil supplements, or antibiotics, pill time might be difficult. These pills are known to not go down very easily (not to mention the fish oil burp). Akash Bajaj, M.D. says for most people, it can be easier for people to swallow pills if they drink a lot of water with their medication.

"If the pill you are taking is large, one way to make it easy to swallow would be to fill your mouth with water (turn your mouth into a pool) and then insert the pill so that you have both water and the pill in your mouth. Tilt your head backward (slightly) and digest the pill that way," Bajaj said in an exclusive interview with Health Digest. He also suggests crushing up your medications and adding them to applesauce or yogurt. Keep in mind that crushing pills isn't advised if you're taking extended-release or sustained-release medications, according to Massachusetts General Hospital. In addition, some medications are supposed to be taken on an empty stomach. Here are some other ways to make medications easier to swallow.

The pop-bottle and lean-forward methods

Although you might see people throwing their heads back while they take pills, this isn't advised because it narrows your esophagus, making swallowing more difficult, according to Medical News Today. A 2014 article in Annals of Family Medicine found two ways to make it easier to take pills. The first is the pop-bottle method. For this, you'll need a plastic bottle of water. Place your tablet on your tongue, then put your lips around the entire opening of the water bottle. Use a sucking motion to suck the water from the bottle into your mouth. The bottle should compress as you suck the water–and the pill.

The lean-forward method can be used for capsules, and this method is best done after consulting with your doctor or speech therapist. Place the capsule on your tongue, then put some water into your mouth without swallowing. Bend your head forward and swallow as your chin reaches your chest.

Other options for swallowing pills

Swallowing pills can be easier if you drink water through a straw, according to WebMD. There are also medication straws available to help make it easier to swallow medication. Rather than a spoonful of sugar, researchers at MIT have developed a plant-based lubricant gel to help the medicine go down.

Massachusetts General Hospital suggests placing pills in the center of your tongue (rather than the back) to avoid triggering the gag reflex. Some people experience anxiety about swallowing pills, which tightens the throat and restricts swallowing. Practicing swallowing pills with small candies like Tic Tacs or mini M&Ms can help ease anxiety.

Medications shouldn't be forced, according to Medical News Today. Throwing pills into your mouth could result in choking, which reinforces the anxiety. If possible, see if your medication offers a liquid or smaller pill option if you have problems swallowing pills.