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HealthInfo Canterbury

Taking medicines when swallowing is difficult

FDP pill in handIf swallowing is difficult you might have trouble taking medications. Liquids may not wash down a pill, or dissolvable pills may start to melt on your tongue and stick.

If you place a pill at the back of your tongue, your drink or food will gather it and push it to the back of your mouth so you can swallow it.

Capsules might be easier than pills. Place these at the front of your mouth, and let them float down with your drink.

It may be easier to take pills by placing them in a spoonful of smooth food such as yoghurt, custard, stewed fruit, or porridge.

Your speech-language therapist can give you some tips on how to make taking your medications easier.

Some medications can be given in different forms. Talk to your pharmacist about other ways you can take your pills, for example crushed, chopped, or as a liquid. Don't crush them or make any other changes until you've cleared it with your pharmacist, as altering the pills can affect how the medication works and can be dangerous.

Written by speech-language therapists, Canterbury DHB. Adapted by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed October 2020.

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See also:

How to take medicines

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Page reference: 336776

Review key: HISWD-121957