Do You Have Trouble Swallowing Pills?

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“My calcium supplement is too big to swallow. Can I open the capsule?” (Or crush it, or cut it in half?) These are common questions that we hear at the pharmacy.

The first thing I ask people is to show me how they are taking their pills. If you are tilting your head back and trying to swallow your vitamins or medications, then you are actually making it harder for yourself because you are narrowing your throat. Take your pills the same way you would eat any food. You don’t throw your head back after taking a bite of sandwich, do you? And make sure that you are chasing them with a large glass of water. Trust me, this will make it a lot easier.

Does the thought of swallowing a “horse pill” still make you gag? Well, there are some things that can be done to make it easier.

If you are taking prescription medications, consult with your pharmacist to see if you can split or crush a pill.

In general, over-the-counter supplements that come in capsules can be opened up and mixed with water, and if in tablet form, they can be crushed or split. The exception is if they are enteric coated. Enteric coating is a barrier applied to pills that prevents the release of the medication before it hits the small intestine. This is usually done to prevent stomach upset, such as the case with aspirin, or to prevent fishy breath, like with fish oils. So, if you purchase anything enterically coated, take it as is. The same goes for time-released medications, including over-the-counter drugs and supplements.

Still having trouble? Look for liquids and powders. This may not be an option for some medications, but many vitamins and minerals are available in this form. You can also have many things compounded into a form that is easier for you to swallow.

To purchase a tablet crusher or pill splitter, or to find out about compounding your pills into something more appealing, call 1-800-869-9159.

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December 2022