What do people do who cannot swallow tablets/capsules or have difficulty? I can just about get the smallest tablets down, but nothing larger

I've tried the 'throw your head back' trick, but my throat just constricts! I do have a tablet cutter/crusher which I use most of the time, but most leaflets state 'swallow whole'. I even asked for a liquid form penicillin recently, but it turned out that it contained aspartame which I avoid if at all possible and I did have a reaction to it. I was pleased to read a patient information leaflet just last week which actually acknowledged that there are people who have a problem with their capsules and they gave permission to take the capsule apart and drink the powder with liquid. Their proviso was not to crush the powder as it contained time release granules. I asked a nurse in hospital recently and she herself has difficulty, so was very sympathetic. She said that if splitting/crushing was not an option, than they would give an injection.

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6 Replies

  • Many tablets/pills have a coating that protects the stomach (enteric coating) from the quick release of the drug, for various reasons... seek the direction of your doctor or pharmacist.

    this website may help


  • My mom was having a similar difficulty swallowing pills as well as food. She was advised by her doctor to keep her head forward and to use a thickened liquid not water to swallow pills. She found taking her pills with a yogurt-type drink/smoothies really helped her. I agree with Cllcanada that unless you are specifically told by your physician or pharmacist that a pill can be crushed or capsule opened you should never take it upon yourself to do so. Many medications are meant to be time-released and if crushed you are putting yourself at risk for adverse side effects. Best of luck to you.

  • Some of us do not have any option. We must crush. I have been "nil by mouth" for 10 years and have to take an antacid, an antiviral and Idelalisib tablets daily. I use a pestle and mortar and mix with 50 ml water. The resulting mixture is administered with a syringe down my PEG. By the way I am now on the extension trial of Idelalisib and so far the results are very encouraging.

  • I sometimes have trouble swallowing tablets (especially flat round ones) but find that taking them within a teaspoon full of yoghurt is successful.

  • Thanks for the tips. I'll try the head forward and the yoghurt ones next, but I probably need to overcome the psychological fear and memories of previous failed attempts!

  • I have had the same problem since I was a child, as soon as I know it is a tablet or capsule I cannot get it over and end up chewing tablets which is not ideal and taste is terrible. Worst ones for me are the capsules but Might do as suggested and break capsule apart first. I know it is purely physiological as swallow pieces of food a lot larger so no problems with swallowing

    . Also have a problem with being sick always think going to choke to death but couldn't as my head is so far down toilet pan it Would be impossible. I think both phobias are connected. Luckily I do not require regular medication any more so taking tablets is quite unusual and only take as a must.

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