Tips for swallowing large tablets or capsules

Created by:

1 Sep 2016 - General

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Some patients may have difficulty swallowing pills, and large tablets or capsules can pose a problem even for normal, healthy adults. Here are some tips to share to your patients (or use for yourself) to make swallowing that darned pill much easier.

1. The Pop-bottle method - Get a plastic water bottle with a narrow opening (the typical mineral water bottle will do) and fill it with drinking water. Place the tablet on tongue and put the bottle to your mouth, placing your lips tightly around the bottle opening.Then, using a sucking motion, take a drink of water from the bottle while still maintaining the contact between your lips and the bottle. This helps the tablet slide right down your throat.

2. The Tilt-forward method - This is for large capsules that don;t readily make it down your throat. Simply place the capsule on your tongue, then take a swig of water but don’t swallow yet. Tilt your chin toward your chest, then swallow both the capsule and water in this position. Surprisingly, even if tilting your chin forward seems to be the opposite of what you should be doing, this method was found to be very effective.

3. Add something viscous or slimy - Get a spoon and place the tablet/ capsule on it. Get a viscous fluid, like honey, yogurt or some sticky syrup, or other slimy food that you don’t usually chew. Take the spoonful and gulp down with water. The slimy addition helps the pill go down your throat much quicker. A bonus here is that it also helps mask the taste of very bitter tablets.

4. Look toward one side - Turning your neck toward one side helps the esophageal sphincter open more easily. This can then make swallowing the pill easier.

5. Split the tablet into smaller pieces - This one’s a no-brainer. Get a pill cutter (or a very sharp knife) and cut the pill into two portions. Swallow each of the smaller portions with water. Note that you should only do these with tablets that are safe to split.

**The first two methods were actually tested in a research published in the Annals of Family Medicine (

If all else fails, and the pill gets stuck in your throat after swallowing, you can just eat a banana or another mushy substance to push the pill down your throat :)

Hope these tips help! Do you know of other tips for swallowing? What are your experiences on this?

Lianne Marie Victoria Laruan Taking a big sip of water after swallowing a pill only to realize that the pill is still on the tongue is one of the worst feelings I also have had. The water makes the bitterness even worse because the drug gets dissolved by the sip of water and the whole tablet sometimes becomes a pulp and stick in the throat. When this happens what I do is put a handful of sugar in my mouth and take...
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Great tips Lianne Marie Victoria Laruan. Tilting forward can be beneficial for patients with neurologic conditions since this maneuver also prevents entry of fluids into the respiratory system. Pop-bottle method is a bit interesting to try as well as looking towards one side. For taking pills in general, it is best to put the tablet at the tip of the tongue. I know I have mentioned this a few times already but it ...
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Theekshana Abayawickrama Haha, yes I do hate that bitter taste left even when I manage to swallow the tablet. What I dislike more is realizing that the water went down and the tablet is still left on your tongue, tasting all bitter. Mahmoud AbdelAziz It's true that children should not be forced to swallow pills when they aren&#...
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Very helpful tips for sure, especially for adults with no neurological or swallowing disorders. However, Children and the previously mentioned cases should actually avoid swallowing large tablets or capsules whenever possible. I have witnessed many cases of impacted foreign body either in their narrow or spastic esophagus or even aspirated in the trachea. these cases can be seen frequently in the emergency room. the immediate effects might be life threatening while the residual parts in the air ...
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This is my theory about taking medicines. First, don't get sick. Second, if you really need to be sick, catch a disease for which there are small tablets, like a common cold. Third, if you really have to take large pills, take them somehow because you really do need to take them! Hehe I hope you are not thinking I am serious. This bit of information really would come in handy when one has to swallow a large pill. I myself often struggle when I have to take large tablets. It's not like I ...
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