How to Swallow A Pill: 5 Useful Tips

How do you swallow things whole, like a pill, a tablet or a capsule? If you too have a phobia of swallowing pills and fear that swallowing a pill whole, any pill, will result in it getting stuck in your throat, then know it is possible to swallow your pills easy and quickly, without the fear of them getting stuck in your throat. Unless there is a medical reason for why you can’t swallow pills, then you likely can and it only takes a little practice. Below are some useful tips and tricks on how to swallow pills successfully.

Tip no. 1: No distractions

When you can’t swallow pills or you can, but then you get that awful pill stuck in throat feeling, preparation can make a world of a difference. A great tip to increasing your success rate with swallowing pills easy and quickly is to go somewhere that’s more quiet or ask the people in the room to be quiet and not distract you with noises, calls or movements for a minute while you swallow the pill.

How to swallow a pill

Tip no. 2: Have a drink of water first

A lot of people have a slightly dry throat unless they’ve just had water. In preparation for swallowing a pill, it helps a lot to have a sip of water, or better, a gulp, right before taking a pill. Water will help rehydrate the mucous membranes of your throat and make them moist, reducing friction so that pills or tablets or capsules don’t get stuck. If your throat is dry, or you simply haven’t had some water very recently, chances are swallowing a pill will cause it to adhere to the mucous membrane of the throat and you’ll experience difficulty swallowing or get a pill stuck in throat feeling. If the throat is dry, it’s difficult to swallow any pill, whether it’s pressed from a powder into a solid, compact form (pill, tablet, caplet or capsule), or a gel capsule, hard-shelled or soft-shelled, single-piece or two-piece.

Note: You can have room temperature still water or tap water, tea or even fruit juice. Soda or similar sugary liquids will create a sticky film of sugar on your throat lining that will cause pills you’re trying to swallow to adhere to the throat lining, causing a pill stuck in throat feeling afterwards.

Tip no. 3: Swallow pills with lots of water

When you do proceed to swallow a pill, a tablet or a capsule, do so with lots of water. Ideally, make it room temperature water so that there isn’t a temperature shock that might cause you to accidentally flinch and cause the pill or some water to go down the wrong pipe. Another good tip is to use room temperature carbonated water or naturally sparkling water: the bubbles will open up the throat and help the pill go down easy and quickly, minimizing the risks of experiencing a pill stuck in throat sensation. Find out more about water aspiration into the lungs.

How to swallow pills

Tip no. 4: Position the pill on the back of the tongue

To help with swallowing a pill or a tablet or a capsule, try positioning it on the back of the tongue as opposed to the tip of the tongue. Try to go as far back as you feel comfortable, but not too far back that you have a gag reflex. Then swallow the pill with lots of water. The farther back the pill is, the less distance it has to travel and the more likely it is you’ll be able to swallow it without incidents.

Tip no. 5: Be quick about it

Water your throat, place the pill on the tongue towards the back and swallow it with lots of water. Don’t let too much time pass between these steps. Don’t wait around anxiously with a pill on your tongue or it will adhere to the tongue, whether it’s a pressed powder pill or a gel capsule, making swallowing difficult. Have your glass or bottle of water ready, your pill too and just do it: water, pill, water, swallow. Fear and anxiety can be overcome by not thinking too much about what you are doing and instead just doing it. Having everything ready helps streamline the process and greatly improves success rates.

Is it possible to swallow a pill wrong? Yes, it absolutely is. But that happens to people who can’t swallow a pill and to those that can. The result is a pill that doesn’t go down from the tongue at all and has to be ‘swallowed’ again, or the awful pill stuck in throat sensation that takes hours to days to clear.

Note: If a pill is really small, you can probably swallow it without water too, but success depends on how well hydrated you are.
Note: Swallowing a pill with pudding is not the best idea if you can’t swallow a pill with water. Pudding is thicker and sometimes also set with a binder such as flour and it might not go down easy, especially for someone who is already having difficulty swallowing a pill with water or who has a dry throat.

How do you get over the fear of swallowing pills?

There’s no secret solution to instantly help you get over the fear of swallowing a pill. If you are not ready for pills, get loose powder formulas or effervescent formulas for medication or supplements you have to take and don’t give yourself a hard time about it. The next step is to start off with really small pills and practice with a vitamin supplement that you ideally want to take every day. As you grow comfortable with the process, slowly move on to bigger sizes, again, practicing with a dietary supplement. Practice helps reduce anxiety and fear related to swallowing pills as well as helps accustom you with the process both from a psychological and a physical standpoint.

This post was updated on Friday / September 11th, 2020 at 10:47 PM