Tips to Make Swallowing Pills Easier

Tips to Make Swallowing Pills Easier

Lots of helpful things like supplements, vitamins, prescription medications, and over-the-counter medicines come in pill form but you might have had trouble with swallowing them. And you’re not alone. The saying “tough pill to swallow” came from somewhere. That being said, let’s take a look at how to make taking pills easier.


Reasons People Struggle with Swallowing Pills

Dysphagia. This is a psychological condition that causes people to have difficulty swallowing. People with dysphagia can have trouble swallowing solid foods, liquids and oral medications. 


Humans are conditioned to chew before swallowing. Swallowing pills whole goes against our natural instincts or at least our long-term conditioning. This can make one feel like they’re choking when taking pills. 


Taking certain medications including antibiotics, antidepressants, and antihistamines can make it difficult to swallow as they cause dry mouth and irritation of the esophagus. 

Tips to Make Swallowing Pills Easier

Talk to Your Doctor or Pharmacist

Certain pills can be crushed and certain ones can’t. If the medication you’re taking can be crushed without altering its effectiveness, then try crushing your pills and adding them to something smooth like apple sauce or a smoothie. However, note that certain medications are recommended to not be taken with food or at least certain foods to avoid adverse reactions


Additionally, your doctor or pharmacist might be able to recommend another form of your medication that’s easier to swallow. 


Take Only One Pill at a Time

Taking each with lots of water can make this even easier. Have a big sip and before swallowing pop the pill into your mouth and swallow everything. Wash it down with more water if necessary. 

Add Your Pills to Soft Food

Even if you don’t crush your pills, hiding them in soft foods that you’re already used to swallowing can make them much easier to swallow. Just make sure that the food you choose won’t have a negative reaction. 


Try the Pop-Bottle Method

A team from the University of Heidelberg in Germany did a study on people who had trouble swallowing pills. Their report, published in the Annals of Family Medicine, cited this technique. Note that this method is for swallowing tablets.


Place the tablet on your tongue with your lips tightly closed around the opening of a flexible PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bottle. 

Then, take a drink while maintaining contact between the bottle and your lips and using a sucking motion to swallow the water and pill without letting air get in.

The aim is to swallow the tablet in a swift suction movement to overcome the volitional phase of swallowing.


Lean Forward Slightly As You Swallow

In the same study as mentioned above, 88% of participants had an easier time swallowing pills by leaning forward. 


For best results, start with your chin up and your shoulders back as you place the pill in your mouth. Then take a generous sip of water and quickly tilt your head forward as you swallow. 

The concept is to give you something else to focus on as the pill moves toward the back of your throat. 

Products That Might Help


Pill Glide is a flavored, lubricating throat spray designed to help adults and children alike take pills and capsules more easily. 


Pill Swallowing Cups - Oralflo makes a special pill swallowing cup where the spout ensures that the water and the pill mix together in your mouth, so that when the swallow reflex takes over, you can ingest the pill easily. According to the makers, “depending on the pill size, you may not notice the pill at all.”


Medical straws

As you might expect, these are straws that pull pills directly into the throat and make them easier to swallow for some people. 

When Taking Pills, You Should Not:

  • Drink Juice- It can alter the effectiveness. 
  • Throw pills towards the back of your throat
  • Tip your head back too much when you swallow – this can make swallowing more difficult


Bottom Line

Many people experience difficulty swallowing pills but there are few strategies and products that could help.


*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease. This is for informational purposes only and not medical advice.