This post about how to swallow vitamins more easily is sponsored by Freeda Health. All opinions are my own.
With the new year comes a renewed determination for better health for many people. Oftentimes, those health goals include things like going to the gym, eating more plant-based foods, and taking new vitamins and supplements for better health.
However, if you have trouble swallowing pills, taking vitamins and supplements daily becomes challenging. If you are wondering how to take pills if you can’t swallow them, I have a few tips that might help.
Trouble swallowing vitamins (AKA Pill dysphagia)
Having trouble swallowing vitamins is a common problem. Many people have trouble swallowing pills but don’t want to admit it or ask for help. It’s not always as easy as tossing a pill in your mouth with a sip of water.
Swallowing vitamins can be difficult because the pills are large in size, have a chalky texture, are coated with chemicals so they go down easily, and often have an odd smell too. The official name for having a hard time swallowing pills is called dysphagia.
Sometimes, the underlying cause of swallowing problems may be physical like having a sensitive gag reflex but that throat tightening feeling you get may also be psychological.
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Easy to Swallow Vitamins and Supplements
While you can’t always choose the size and formula of the medications you have to take, there are many formulations of vitamins and supplements available if you have problems swallowing pills. If you are looking for easy-to-swallow vitamins and supplements, here are a few formulations that might help.
Some multivitamins are smaller than others and might be easier to take if you have difficulty swallowing traditional-sized pills. This may require some trial and error on your part as not all supplements will indicate pill size on the container.
Freeda Health has a small multivitamin if you are looking for a tiny tablet to support your dietary needs. The Freedavite tiny tablets contain 100% of the daily recommended values of vitamins plus some important minerals. A “tiny tablet”, Freedavite is a terrific choice for those who have difficulty swallowing. It is also coated for further ease of swallowing. Head over to the Freeda Health website and check out their Freedavite small multivitamin for more info.
Capsules vs Tablets
People often have less trouble swallowing capsules than they do with dense tablets. They aren’t as heavy and may not trigger your gag reflex as easily.
Is it safe to open capsule pills? Not always! If you have difficulty swallowing capsules, talk to your doctor or pharmacist before opening them. Your medication may not act the same without the clear outer capsule.
Even if you can’t always open the capsule, you may find that successfully swallowing a capsule is easier than taking tablets.
Powders and Chewables
If you have difficulty swallowing pills of all sorts, look for powdered supplements or chewable tablets. Some vitamins and supplements come as gummy bears, making medication easier to take for people of all ages.
If you are looking for easier-to-swallow pills as part of your New Year, Healthier You initiative, Freeda Health has many formulations that might help.
How to swallow vitamins more easily
Let’s say you have trouble swallowing tablets but your medication or supplement only comes in tablet form. Here are some helpful tips to make swallowing pills easier.
Drink plenty of water
This is always good advice, but it can help with swallowing pills, too. Take a big drink of water before you swallow your medication. Put the pill in your mouth and start drinking. This might ease the process so the pill goes down easier.
Once the pill has been swallowed, continue drinking a full 8-ounce glass of water. If water isn’t really your thing, switch it up. Drink papaya juice, a glass of milk, or whatever you are having with your meal.
Lean forward method
Pill swallowing can be challenging, however, there are a few pill swallowing techniques that might help.
The first is the lean forward method. Put a capsule on your tongue. Take a generous swig of water but don’t swallow. Tilt your head forward, moving your chin toward your chest. Swallow the capsule and water while your head is bent.
Pop bottle method
The next common pill swallowing technique is the pop bottle method. Fill a plastic water or soda bottle with water. Put the tablet on your tongue and close your lips tightly around the water bottle opening. Take a large gulp of water, keeping contact between the bottle and your lips and using a sucking motion to swallow the water and pill. Don’t let air get into the bottle.
Bot the lean forward method and the pop bottle method have been shown to be helpful for people who have difficulty swallowing pills. If you want more information about why these techniques work, check out this report, published in the Annals of Family Medicine.
Practice with small candies
This method helps a lot of patients. It trains your brain and your throat to swallow pills without a lot of anxiety.
Start small. Candy sprinkles are tiny enough to begin with and make the process easier. Once the candy sprinkles are easy to swallow, increase the size of the candy you use.
Keep increasing the size until you can swallow something like an M&M. Then try taking your vitamins.
Use a straw to swallow pills
Drink water through a straw after placing the pill on the back of your tongue. Try to place the tablet toward the back of your throat. Drinking liquid through a straw makes pills easier to swallow.
Hide the pill in applesauce, pudding, or other soft food
Whether you use banana mash, chocolate pudding, or mashed potatoes, most vitamins can be taken with food in this manner.
Want to take turmeric to fight inflammation? Or swallow a pill for your high blood pressure? Hide it in a spoonful of yogurt or other soft food and then open up and enjoy.
Coat with a lubricant gel
There are actually several pill lubricant gels on the market today that make swallowing pills slightly easier.
Most pill lubricant gels are basically slippery gels consisting of food-based ingredients that have no known interactions with medications. The ingredients in pill glide break down quickly in the stomach and do not affect the way your medication or supplements function. You can buy Phazix pill swallowing gel which may help.
Spray on lubricant
Spray-on pill lubricants work slightly differently. Just a few sprays in the mouth before taking a tablet or capsule and the pill goes down without the discomfort. They generally come in fun flavors to make them more palatable. Try Pill Glide Swallowing Spray which comes in a palatable strawberry flavor.
Try a pill-swallowing cup
Pill swallowing cups are another easy way to make it easier to swallow pills. Simply place your medication on the shelf inside of the pill swallowing cup. Drink water as you would normally. There’s no need to try swallowing immediately after taking meds- just drink until it’s gone
Take large pills with a thick drink
Wondering how to swallow vitamins that are REALLY big? Large pills (like some vitamins and fish oil capsules) can be hard to swallow. Try taking them with a thick fruit shake or smoothie, milkshake, etc.
How to swallow a pill without water
In general, it is not recommended to try swallowing pills without water. Without liquid or food to help the pill go down, there is a greater chance that it will cause irritation in the esophagus.
In a medical emergency or if you just have to take your pill on a schedule and can’t manage a sip of water right then and there, just place the pill on the back of the tongue and swallow. Tilting your head back may allow gravity to help the process along a bit.
Like this post about how to swallow pills more easily? Read these health tips, too!
If you are looking for more healthy living tips, here are a few articles you might want to read.
- How to set realistic health goals: With the new year upon us, make sure you make health goals that are within your reach or you risk losing motivation quickly.
- Heart-healthy lifestyle tips: Check out this post on healthy changes you can make to support heart health.
- How to get healthy in 5 minutes a day: Small changes, made every day, are an easy way to ease into a healthy new year.
Trouble Swallowing Pills? Talk to your doctor
When do you talk to a doctor? If you truly cannot swallow pills or find an alternative formula that works for you, start with your primary care physician.
Many times, your doctor may recommend a swallowing assessment to see if you have a particularly narrow opening at the back of the throat.
They may ask about any extended globus sensation you may experience (Globus sensation is the feeling of having a lump in the throat when in fact there is nothing there.)
Ask your doctor about treatment options that may help you swallow pills a little bit more easily.
My advice for parents
As a pharmacy technician, I have talked with a lot of parents of young children who struggle to switch from liquid medications to swallowing pills. At some point, kids need to learn this and it’s best for them to learn when they are young.
Give your child some sprinkles and tell them to take a sip of water to wash it down. Try this on an empty stomach. If they struggle with sprinkles, show them the pop bottle method or the lean forward method.
These two tricks, paired with patience and encouragement, are a great way to get your kids to swallow pills without a problem.
Diane is a professional blogger and nationally certified pharmacy technician at Good Pill Pharmacy. She earned her BS in Microbiology at the University of New Hampshire and has worked in cancer research, academics, and biotechnology. Concern over the growing incidence of human disease and the birth of her children led her to begin living a more natural life. She quickly realized that the information she was learning along the way could be beneficial to many others and started blogging and freelance writing to share this knowledge with others. Learn more about her HERE.