Tuesday, July 20, 2004

On swallowing pills

I must confess that I have a handicap, dear reader - or is it more of a dirty secret - can it really be a secret if I'm writing about it in a weblog?

The thing is that I don't know how to swallow pills.

There! I've said it. I can see your head tilting already and a look of concern/bemusement forming: Can he really be serious? A full-grown 31-year old man can't swallow pills! Didn't everybody get over that as a child? What's wrong with him? etc.

Now this is the kind of thing that is difficult to admit. It's not quite like confessing an addiction or a social disease, but it's more like having a blind spot, a strange fetish or a peculiar deficiency of some sort (say like a penchant for wearing spiderman underpants). You feel like you want to stiffen the man up, slap or shake him, shouting "Just grow up, shape up etc.", as it were.

I certainly feel that way sometimes, but it's essentially just your garden variety phobia and/or eccentricity; something one lives with and gets on with. Like everyone I've had my fair share of illness (colds, flus etc), and occasionally with more serious and longer-term diseases, I've had to take daily regimes of pills so I have to deal with this problem regularly. I'm the kind of person the drug companies might point to when they claim that 'people in the third world don't know how to take drugs on a schedule' and decide not to supply AIDs drugs to poor countries.

Of course my problem is being able to take drugs at all, let alone taking them on a schedule.

Obviously I can, and do, swallow food - it's clearly not a problem with the mechanical act. In Ghana, we eat something called fufu - which is swallowed, not chewed - that's typically the child's gentle introduction to the ways of dealing with pills. Now I've always swallowed fufu so this difficiency was all too perplexing to all who raised me and noticed this aspect of me. Even today, the problem is psychological. It's the notion of knowingly ingesting potentially bitter medecine that is at issue - knowing that it will help you or provide relief is irrelevant. A couple of anecdotes are in order.:

I still remember the look of disappointment on my aunt's face: aged 6 or 7, with my mother out of town, I'd had a particularly bad asthma attack; the doctor prescribed something or other. First I couldn't/wouldn't take the pill, then she tried putting it amongst small balls of fufu - that didn't work; then she ground things up - I fought but eventually managed to take it down... Of course, since I hadn't swallowed, the pills had unsettled my stomach. Within 15 minutes, I had thrown up... so then the rigmarole continued: me being further weakened, now with an empty stomach and still sick and needing to take the medecine to get better. So it's a process of cook more soup and fufu, grind and try again, repeat as many times as necessary. Her's was a labour of love (and especially patience) but she essentially had to revert to treating me like a newborn baby. I can imagine her shaking her head and laughing as she would recount the events to my mother on her return: "That your son, he's a 'special' one."

On another occasion, after coming out of surgery (I believe I was 22 years old - as you'd note, not much progress in the intervening years, it was surgery with anaesthesia and all), I was given painkillers and some antibiotics; the nurse explained the prognosis: there would be pain, considerable pain, for the next week, but the painkillers would take off the edge. She left the recovery room and I started my excruciating pill-taking routine. The antibiotic went down well - well it took a few minutes, hemming, hawing. But when it came to the painkiller, it wouldn't work, I just couldn't swallow the pill, it was too big, wrong shaped etc. After 5-10 minutes, I tried chewing but it was awful, I tried, I tried...

So I did the next best thing, I spat it out and hid the pieces in my sling under my cast. Half an hour of increasing pain passed and the returning nurse ultimately discovered her patient in pain and then the culpatory material. I smiled weakly/apologetically etc... Again it was the same look - you're can't quite be manly in such circumstances... but then she was all business and professional (she must see this occasionally - maligerering or rather non-compliance), she got me another pill and waited to watch me take it... it took 10 minutes... Embarrasment is the least of it, not to mention the pinkish stain on my cast as a reminder for the next few weeks.

Now looking back it's funny, I was in severe pain, I'd just had surgery and yet this was my lot. Over the years I've trained myself to confront this failing and most times I've managed to deal with this... Here some of the number of coping mechanisms I've developed.

1. Avoidance

Simply don't get ill, healthy people don't take pills (unless it's vitamins). Or it's close cousin:

2. When ill, simply pretend that you're not ill.

This latter variant of course exacerbates things because one misses out on things like the benefits of prevention or early treatment.

3. Seek out chewables

This was more feasible when I was a child (see vitamins). But I don't see antibiotics like pennicillin in chewable format. More to the point, no amount of sugar or sweetener can ever make certain pills go down satisfactorily. Certainly this is true of quinine or choloroquin (which is sometimes given for malaria) as I know from painful experience - these are the worst tasting things imaginable, poisons essentially.

4.a Seek out powders, syrups or

4b. crush pills

I loved my Ventolin (such a sweet syrup, it tasted good, looked good (nice and reddish), and provided relief - it also had nasty side effects, French doctors were horrified to learn that I had been using it but that's another story). Similarly, the powdered, lemon-flavoured flu medications, Lemsip and TheraFlu, seem to do the trick, tried and true and decent stand-ins for Ibruprofen/Advil/Tylenol/Sudafed most of the time.

Grinding or crushing a pill is a last resort; it feels like cheating, unmanly somehow.

5. Seeking out the right shape and size pill

Some pill shapes give me more problems than others, I seem to have problems with rounded pills for some reason - it doesn't matter how small they are. The dreaded capsule is the worst offender. I can't do it, I'm half defeated already. It's coated, so its contents are clearly bitter and would upset your stomach if you chew. So its a struggle... I note: the smaller the pill, the better so oval 120-200mg tablets work best.

6. The long production

With practice, I've eventually 'learnt' how to take most medecines. I have my eccentric routines but by-and-large it's not an ordeal. Sometimes however, it's a case of the 'long production'. Even now, I can spend 10 minutes trying to swallow, pacing around the rooms, tilting head, standing up, sitting down, etc to no avail.

And that is where I'm at now, and why I'm writing this blog entry.

I've just now gone through most of these stages: I've been fighting a (now-diagnosed) sinus infection for the past week and the doctor has just prescribed some antibiotics and something to thin out the sinus channels. There was avoidance, denial for a few days, unfortunately chewables were not an option, and I had to settle on powders but even these haven't worked. So on to the current, forebidding prescription:
  • The one is a huge 500 mg capsule
  • The other is a 720mg tablet. A beast in other words - and the wrong shape too, more square than oval and bulging ominously.
I just took them:
  • the first one went down ok - modulo a chew or two
  • the other was a long production ™. 7 minutes too. I had been been through all the stages. I couldn't chew, it was a capsule, I know better than that. I did the pacing, the tilting etc.
With antibiotics these days, you have to take the full course. this is going to be an interesting few days.

With the internet being what it is, there are lots of resources about my ills, primers on 'pill swallowing' even educational videos. They all target children, emphasizing behavior modifcation, reinforcement, building confidence, performance anxiety etc and even the last resort, consulting bevioural psychiatrists (basically it's just like potty training). Hmmm... I wonder if I can be cured, I'm tempted to order off a video or something. Or I'm a more of a malade imaginaire?

There's a new film out this week, Maria, Full of Grace, which is about how a young, newly pregnant girl from Columbia becomes (or is forced into becoming) a 'drug mule'. It's supposed to be a heart-stopping drama and audiences are apparently gripping their seats when she swallows her cargo of 60 or so little pellets of heroine - wrapped in some plastic or other to ensure they don't dissove in her stomach and kill her. The tagline:
These pellets contain heroine. Each weighs 10 grams. Each is 4.2 cm long and 1.4 cm wide. And they're on their way to New York in the stomach of a 17-year-old girl.
I'll be watching that scene with more than professional interest: perhaps I can learn something about swallowing pills.

The drugs are kicking in now... It will be light blogging for the next few days.

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Anonymous said...

Good show!

You should see me when I get stuck with a needle. I grow pale, sweat, and babble. I must be unusually bad because medical professionals look confused, even alarmed. The manliness thing is the worst: "I'm a man right?! I'll just tough it out. AHHHH THIS IS AWFUL!! Wait, I'm a man, right?!..." I suppose I have it easier in that I don't stick the needle in myself, so the suffering period is bounded.

Hey let's form a support group! Oh wait that's not manly is it.

Anonymous said...

I'm a 41-year old female from Canada who has suffered from migraines and moderate headaches since the age of 8. This means that I've had to take a lot of pills throughout my life.

Up until about 10 years ago, I never had a problem swallowing pills or capsules... I just did it without thinking. But now I seem to have developed a phobia, and I can't figure out why it started. I've never had a choking incident, and I know the medication usually stops the pain, so why do I panic?

Swallowing uncoated or round tablets is out of the question; everything has to be in gel-cap form or I won't even attempt it. Most of the time, I can get it down after a struggle, but occasionally I hold it in my mouth too long, and it starts to break up, so I have to spit it out. Other times I just focus on staying calm, and then I can force myself to swallow.

But the worst problem is that my throat doesn't want to obey the "swallowing command". I'll try to stay calm and think, "okay, do it now, swallow it NOW", but nothing happens. This can go on for a few minutes before I finally get so angry at myself that I force it to happen. Other times I get into a severe panic, and it won't happen at all.

Back in the spring, I was so desperate for help I actually went to a hypnotherapist, but he actually made me worse! Now I know that these people don't really hypnotize their patients at all... it's all about relaxation, and if you're an anxious person like me, relaxation doesn't work.

I keep hoping that, since this fear came out of nowhere, it will eventually go back to nowhere, but so far I'm still waiting. I know that no one can help me except myself.

Good luck to you, Koranteng. I know what you're going through.


Anonymous said...

oh man i know exactly how you feel, im a 17 yr old girl from australia and ive never been able to swallow pills or capsules or anything. sometimes i cant sleep thinking about it, yuck it makes me shudder now! you'll jsut have to learn to chew all tablets like me, i chew everything and if its a capsule i open it up and swallow the power with some water. it tastes like HELL but just remeber its better than swallowing.....

Anonymous said...

oh man! i feel for you because your situation is so similar to mine! i am a 41 yo male and have never been able to swallow pills. and it doesn't matter if they are big or small or coated or not.

i was just diagnosed with a strep throat and have to take some big 400mg antibiotics and i am telling you i can't just swallow them! i have to chew them and it is causing me all kinds of unnecessary stress which of course i don't need now.

God i wish there was some easy way to overcome this problem! i WANT to be able to take pills easily when i have to. but for whatever reason, my mouth won't follow suit.

Anonymous said...

I also has a confession!
yours is the only blog that l have been able to not only read all of it,
but about 3-4 of your postings!
l just love it
it was the posting concerning congo and king leopald that set me off.
this is some of the thing s that will make us africans never see that we need to rid ourself from the past and just move on
I, who come from the west side of africa has read this book and felt angery about what happen to mine brother and sister about 150 old years ago.
And to think that the decsentant of the vistims want to put up a stuue of this moster is way past understaning.

Anonymous said...

I have the EXACT same problem mate!, im 24 male and never been able to swallow damn capsules(especially antibiotics) tablets are ok, since i do what you do, just chew them up nomatter how bad they taste. I have to take 500mg antibiotic capsule now 4 times a day for an infection, and It takes me 5 - 10 minutes to swallow it. I always end up cutting it in half and shoving that down my throat ( the taste is HORRIBLE) but i force it down.

I know exactly how you feel

Anonymous said...

hey koranteng,this is the first blog i've ever read completely without getting pissed off and posted a comment on. yes i am a fellow pill victim,or are we all individuals with heightened sensitivity with a sub- conscious revulsion against the pharmaceutical mafia!!!kidding of course.
i think my pill difficulties began around six years ago, the tilting of the head, pacing about with a half dissolved tablet in my mouth and a pounding heart, and a sense of shame at not being able to perform this most mundane and simple job.
guess today i feel i'm not alone.
sometimes juice or a sweet dfrinbk helps me get it down faster,some amount of self- motivating chat helps too, and sometimes i just work myself up enough,then one sharp(almost violent)tilt back of the head and the pill goes in- i am relaxed and life goes on.

Anonymous said...

Wow - I'm glad I'm not as abnormal as I thought - but at the same time sorry you all are going through this too!! I'm a 28 yr old who could take even "horse pills" when I was a child, but my roomate has a severe fear of swallowing pills and I think it's rubbed off. (Weird, huh?) Anyway, I came across the following site and the suggestions were pretty helpful. Things like chewing up cookies, jello, anything you could normally swallow that's big enough to cover the pill. Also I found warm water (warm enough to gulp, not hot to scald you!) is very helpful too because it relaxes the throat muscles alot. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Im not the only one!!!Thank you....im 31 woman, cannot swallow any type of pill. My farmacy look at me like mad when I ask for syrup form...they say you swallow food dont you.

But I have just been given 3 lots of tablets that I have to take...i dont know what I am going to do. I might try hypnotherapy!


Anonymous said...

i'm a 17 year old girl who can't swallow pills, and i know it's all psychological, but i absolutely cannot get over it. my first time ever having to swallow a pill, it went fine. the next day, when it was time to take my medicine again, i just couldn't do it, and since that day, this phobia has tormented me. apparently i'm phobia-prone... i'm deathly afraid of every type of bug imaginable, and of course, swallowing pills. i feel like, of all the stories i've heard though, i'm more tormented than anyone! even if i crush pills into an absolute dust and put it in applesauce, it's nearly impossible for me... i am severly psychologically tormented by this =( so trust me, i know how you feel!

Anonymous said...

My daughter can't swalow a capsule. She needs to swallow it as a capsule because it is time released. Any suggestions. This is critical.

Koranteng said...

I would suggest "a pill swallowing cup"; I haven't tried one myself (since I'm still in the avoidance and denial phase), but as an engineer, it makes sense that a cup designed to fool you into thinking you're drinking might work. Some of them seem quite elaborate - indeed I've been contacted by a few companies that have developed such things. The Wife has threatened to get me one because she can't stand my phobia. I hope this suggestion helps... and do let me know what works... hopefully your daughter won't be writing similar blog entries 20 years from now...

Anonymous said...

hi I am twenty four year old female who has never been able to swallow pills of any kind at all. This is fustrating for me especially when I see children do it. It looks so easy so why can't I do it. I need to take capsule from now and I do not know what to do I am so desperate so anyone with a suggestion please help me.

Anonymous said...

I'm 22-- same problem. I still don't swallow my pills, but there was a time a year or two ago when I had some spare time when I was sick, so I "practiced" with a small pill. I swallowed it successfully one night, then the following morning. What I did was use warm water, rather than cold water. Someone said it helps loosen your throat. The reason I used it was that it relaxed me. I wish you all luck and we should all slowly but surely try and get over our fear. Almost everyone can swallow pills, so why shouldn't we be able to?

Anonymous said...

I'm 21, and have the same problem. I have to take my first Flucloxacillin 250 in a minute, i'm here with orange juice looking for tips because i'm bad at taking pills...

Nice post mate, very true :)

Anonymous said...

i have had trouble with swallowing pills all my life. and my friends and parents who say "oh its soo easy" ...i just don't see how it is. I mean im fine with swallowing food whole or sum ice...but pills. not for me. I guess its since the day i choked on an oreo. Well now im stuck wiht these 500mg coated tablets that i cannot "chew , crush or break" but w/e...i do anyways hopeflly this isn't too bad?

Anonymous said...

I am a 29 year old man that as the same problem... but my question is: Why can't I "chew , crush or break" antibiotics? What's ssoooo bad about it (appart the awful taste of course)? I can't find the answer nowhere on the net.

Anonymous said...

I can't swallow big pills at all, but at least your column made me laugh!


Anonymous said...

Its quite funny to see so many people facing the same problem! :) Usually I chew my pills... yes, they taste horrible, but I found out that if i pinched my nostrils shut when i chew & gulp it down, there's no taste at all! (You might want to try that...takes some practice though.)
Right now i'm sitting at my desk, glaring at the pills i have to take for my throat inflammation. They're just tiny little enzyme pills, but i'm not supposed to chew them (cuz of the coating to protect from stomach acids), yet they just somehow end up floating in my mouth no matter how hard i try to fool myself into thinking "Just swallow, its just water in my mouth..."
I must have finished 3 bottles of water already...and havnt swallowed a single pill. Sigh.

Anonymous said...

i found your blog randomly on google by typing in "why can't i swallow pills?"

when i have a simple headache, friends give me a pill, thinking it's that easy for me. it's definitely not.

i'm a 17 year old girl, and i've only swallowed one pill... once... and that was after 8 tries.

i just got my wisdom teeth out, and i'm supposed to take these pills, but i'm using children's motrin instead. the label says for children to 95 pounds, and i'm 105, so that's good enough, right?

one time i was at the doc's and when she gave me pills, i told her i couldn't swallow them. the nurse laughed. the nurse was fricking laughing at me, saying how i was 17 and couldn't swallow pills, but i could tell the doc understood. she gave me some other stuff instead and told me that a lot of people can't swallow pills. not to bash nurses or anything like that, but anytime i get medication, it's only the doctor who seems to understand and not make me feel stupid.

but yeah, if i can't get the children's stuff, crushed pills are the way i go.. nasty as hell, but it works.

Anonymous said...

I just had to add my 2 cents to the pill swallowing dilemma. I am a 53 year old woman who has never been able to swallow pills.

Fortunately, there are chewables for almost everything now. Centrum makes an adult chewable vitamin, and when I need an antibiotic, I always ask for the liquid kind. I would rather get a shot than take a pill. And now my daughter won't take them because she got a Dayquil large capsule stuck in her throat and had to call 911. My husband thinks we are crazy because he can pop about 5 at a time and swallow them all at once. Stay healthy, everyone!

Anonymous said...


I have exact same problem with pills! I have managed to swalllow 2 in my life, but it still doesn't get easier! My parents try and force me, my sister, my boyfriend, everyone! That makes me worse though, I think to myself - I can do this! But I can't! I had to try and take some Feminax for period pains today...no way! I gave up, I tried and tried, it got stuck in my mouth and I coughed it back up. I take syrup medicine, but they aren't as powerful, and at some time or other I will have to take pills. I seriously considered hypnosis or something! I need help, everyone else can do it, I can't! I'm 19 by the way.
Glad I'm not alone!

Anonymous said...

I'm 38 and have never been able to swallow pills either - big, small, whatever. It's beyond how anyone can do it. I have a bacterial infection and have been prescribed 8 pills a day for a week. I tried for about two hours unsuccessfully. Finally, I opened the capsules and crushed the tablet and took them with yogurt. I was checking the web to find some way of getting them down whole but no luck yet.

Anonymous said...

Man, I know that feeling....I can't swallow pills either, at least whole. I will grind them or cut into very, very small pieces. My phobia started after I got a huge antibiotic pill stuck in my throat and totally freaked out! Called 911 and the whole business. It's small comfort to know that others have the same problem after reading the blogs.

Anonymous said...

I soooo no what you mean, except I can swallow pills just not big ones. I can swallow small round ones and Motrin & Midol sized ones, anything bigger than that I just can't get down my throat. Like right now I have this pain near my tailbone and got prescibed to a 500mg antibiotic and 500mg painkiller; I cannot get either down. Oh and I have to take both these pills twice a day for 2 weeks; the horror. I think with me it's psychological, I feel like I'm gonna choke or something. I wasn't able to start swallowing in pills until I turned 18 and I'm going on 20 at the end of this year.

Anonymous said...

FINALLY i found some people like me all this time i always been around people who can swallow pills and i can't it gets me so mad i am only 13 but i am in the first stage of asma i just don't know why but i have a seriose pill phobia i just CAN'T SWALLOW THEM!!!!! and its not jut the big capsuals it is even the tiny pills well i know how u feel good luck everyone with swallowing pills it not fun

Anonymous said...

I am a diabetic and am in insulin and have just been put on the extended release gloucophage to help with the weight gain from the insulin. But....these pills are horse pills - even cutting them in half and putting them in peanut butter is a chore to swallow - i have never been able to swallow pills - the ol' gag mechanism kicks in before i even get it into my mouth and i have to take two of these twice a day...it truly is a chore..everyone laughs at me for this problem...i know i need them, but it is such a chore for me...any other ideas of how they could go down easier...i've tried applesauce and puddings, i just suck the food off and then that leaves me with the pill...any suggestions would be helpful...

Anonymous said...

THANK GOODNESS, I am not alone! I am 48 and have never ever been able to swallow any pills of any size. As soon as I place the pill in my mouth I simply panic, my palms begin to sweat and my heart races. I just know I will choke, if I try to swallow the pill. In any event, I was thinking of trying a product like Chloraseptic (for sore throats) which will numb the throat and tongue before placing the pill in my mouth. Has anyone else tried such a thing?

Anonymous said...

Hi there

I found this blog via google while searching advice for this problem. It appears like most here i am also tormented by the danm stupid phobia. With me its weird, i dont conciously have a fear og the pill, i know its good for me and i wantt o swallow it, but i just cant. No matter how hard i try, even if i force it to the back of my throat and swallow hard it just wont happen.

Its annoying, i will overcome this but so far i havnt found anything helpful.

Anonymous said...

Glad to hear I'm not the only nervous wreck out there. I'm 31 and still haven't mastered swallowing pills. I'm in the middle of a course of antibiotics and have been crushing my horse tablets in order to get them down. Somehow my mother's technique of suggesting I imagine someone's life depended on me swallowing a pill didn't do anything to calm my anxiety. If anyone works out a remedy, mantra, meditative technique or other solution, please post it on the net! My sympathies to fellow sufferers!

Anonymous said...

Im actually having that problem at this very moment.

Yesterday, i was prescribed 500mg Amoxicillin (antibiotic) for my Strep Throat. I got the first 2 down, but the last one was a struggle and i gagged on the first one this morning. Im eating right now hoping that will some how get my body to open the throat and make it easier to go down...although i think its all in my head....maybe i should imagine its not Amoxicillin, but a smartie, or some kind of candy.

Anonymous said...

wow, i can't believe so many people have the same problem as me. I can easily sit on a room for 3 hours and not be able to swallow a pill. Being 21 and not being able to take a pill is kinda embarrassing, but it's good to not be alone. One thing to note, they say that the more powerful drugs should not be opened/crushed.

Anonymous said...

Thankyou for such a good entry and all the great replies. I too am a fellow sufferer of pill taking anxiety/phobia, and reading the above has made me feel as though i am not alone.

I am into my third day of pill taking (one once a day for an extended period of time, possibly 2 years) and I am not finding it easy. Tomorrow I will be away for 11 days and I am concerned as to how I will conduct my pill taking for this period.

I will be subtly obtaining glasses of water and psyching myself up whilst trying not to draw attention to myself. I always fear that the capsule will begin dissolving in my mouth, as this must have happened to me before when I was younger . . does anyone know if this actually happens - it is a clear, I think "gel" type capsule.

The only advice I can offer is to scull the drink you are having it with, and try to be calm.

Good luck to all my fellow pill gaggers

PS I am an 18 year old girl from Australia :)

Anonymous said...

I'm 48 and have never been able to take any pill. Even aspirin is a challenge! So glad to hear that I am not alone.

Anonymous said...

You guys think thats bad? I have problems swallowing little bitty tiny birthcontrol pills. My doctor has put me on Prometrium. The pills are HUGE to me. I have put it off until today. I have to take this pill tonight and I DON"T WANNA! I feel your pain! Why can't the people who make pills make everything in either liquid or powder also?? People just don't think of people like us.
Anyhow. Good luck to all of you.

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad I'm not alone in this. Ever since I was little, I haven't been able to swallow pills of any size or shape. I usually panic as soon as I put the pill in my mouth. I did get a tiny pill down once with Jello. I have told my doctors that I can't swallow and they either laugh or tell me it's pshycological and I need to get over it. I have bronchitis and I have to take these huge Erythromycin horse pills. I have no ieda how I'm going to get these down.

Anonymous said...

I can relate to each and every one of your stories. I am a 27 year old female and taking pills is a nightmare for me. I choked when I was little, and I think it is something that has haunted me ever since. I made a commitment to train myself not to fears swallowing pills. I started with very small pills, and eventually took a little bigger ones. When I am feeling well, it is much easier to cope with taking pills...it's when I am sick that the fear comes back and makes it more difficult. Now, I have been diagnosed with hyperthyroidism and I will have to take pills everyday. This is a very scary thought for me to face. I just want to say that I feel better knowing that this is a problem that many people can relate to, and that none of us are alone.

Anonymous said...

I just found a perfect way for me to start swallowing pills. Since I'm sick, and awake at four in the morning, I was desperate, so I tried some experimentation. Finally, after so many years of painful chewing, I found a better way.
What I did was I stuck my pill inside a small piece of bread (croissant in my case, and then stuck the bread in my mouth. THEN, I added warm water into my mouth, and let the bread become really soggy. THat was when I swallowed. I know, it sounds gross, but it worked for a me, a famous pill choker, so you should give it a shot.

Anonymous said...

I never understood the concept of swallowing pills. I can't even swallow teeny tiny pills. It is a phobia of choking.. I know it. I has been a real problem for me as well. I always chew pills if I can. I'd like to get over the phobia but I don't know how really... it's hard for me. I worry about my medications not being as effective because of this.

Anonymous said...

I'm 16 years old, and I have never been able to swallow pills. When I was little I never had to. I just took the liquid. But now it's hard for me. My mom keeps telling me to relax, but that doesn't work cause I end up relaxing so much that swallowing is harder to do.

I read some really good suggestions here. I want to try them, because when I get my period it's so bad I literally can't stand, and I can't take any medication for it. The children's motrin stopped working awhile ago.

Hopefully, I'll be able to swallow pills one day.


Anonymous said...

This might be mean to say, but I am actually happy to see so many people having the same phobia as me. I hate pills. People can never understand why it is so difficult for me to swallow a pill. Every time I try it goes down my windpipe and then I have to cough and spit.

Good to know I am not the only one!

Anonymous said...

I'm not alone! I'm a 30 year old female and I have been plagued with this problem for my entire life. I didn't know of anyone else who suffered from this phobia. It's such a pain to deal with! I hate getting antibiotics or prescription pills. I just know it will be such an ordeal and I hate going through it. I have tried every method. Putting the pill in food, chewing (which tastes HORRID), cutting them in half, etc. It will take me tons of water and about an hour to get ONE down. It's such a nightmare and it doesn't seem to get any easier as I get older. Thanks for the post, it really made me feel better!

Anonymous said...

I came across this blog through a google search since I started to think that I was alone in not being able to swallow pills. Having read all the comment I realise that I am the oldest man to post an entry at 57 years old. Yes like you all I have great difficulty in swallowing pills - they just won't go down. I feel afraid I will choke. Recently I have been going to a therapist who had managed so far to make me swallow varying sizes of candy which look like pills. I seem to have drawn the line at about 1.5cm diameter sugar coated candy. As son as I put these in my mouth they feel enormous. After a lot of self talk I take a swallow of water and jerk the "pill" (candy)down at times with my heart pounding. After swallowing I wonder how I did it! Like many of those who posted here I have never been able to swallow and a I get older I keep having the fear that I may need to swallow pills I cannot chew or find in liquid form. The therapy (CBT) has so far helped me in reaching a reasonable milestone - from here who knows?? A note of thanks to all those who posted its heart warming to hear from "fellow sufferers". Maybe we should form a group of "pill swallowing phobia" that might make the pill makers sit up and listen!!!

Anonymous said...

Wow I thought I was the only one who had this issue with swallowing pills. I'm 20 and have had this problem since I was a child. My parents keep sayin "if you can swallow food, you can swallow pills" BAHH if it was only so simple.. i don't know why but everytime I try, i feel like im going to choke and it always sets my gag reflex off. I guess i dont have to worry about some sort of pill addiction or liver problems because of tylenol :p.

Anonymous said...

Wow I thought I was the only person with this issue. I'm 20 and ever since I can remember I've had this problem with swallowing pills. No matter how small the pill is I always end up copping out because it feels like im going to choke or it sets of my gag reflex. YUCK. i get nervous and then my heart starts beating fast for some reason and i end up dissolving the pill in my mouth and spitting it out.

I searched also on google for this problem and was surprised to find relevant and recent experiences.

At least I dont have to worry about some sort of pill addiction or liver problems from overusing tylenol :p

Anonymous said...


I am 35 and I have never been able to swallow pills. Unless of course I had it crushed up completely and mixed in a drink.

All that changed this week, I have learnt how to swallow, and it took 5 mins and a few hours of practice!

I can't believe it. Honestly, if any of you have the same issue I have it can be solved right now.

(This sounds like some crazy ad I know, but it's not, I'm just so excited).

Do you have these symptoms:

- dry lower lip
- dry mouth with usually a lot of gunk on your tongue (I had to clean mine every day)
- breath through your mouth
- feel tired during the day
- feel bloated in the stomach


On monday I found out what all that means.. I never learnt how to swallow when I was around 4.

Around that age, you change the way you swallow. Almost all children do it instinctively, but some don't. it's sometimes the shape of the mouth, or sometimes if a sippy cup has been used too much.

Either way, the pre-4 way of swallowing is to thrust your tongue forward and usually between your upper and lower teeth. This is BAD! It means your can't draw food down in to your stomach correctly, and also that you bring air down making you feel bloated.

The way you are supposed to swallow is that you close your jaw (back teeth touching) and (MOST IMPORTANT) push your tongue up against the top of your mouth. This makes it impossible to breath in air through your mouth, as it creates a vacuum seal and then the suction force eassily pulls the food down in to your stomach.

In fact, get this, most people have their tongue touching the top of their mouths ALL THE TIME. I was pretty stunned at this, and I've asked several people over the last few days, and they had to think about it, and then they would say, "oh yeah, I never noticed, of course it's touching the top of my mouth".

Ok, so how can you test if you have the technique correct?

Grab a glass of water and take a sip. Close your jaw (back teeth touching), push your tongue agaist the top of your mouth (I am pushing the tip agsinst the back of my front top teeth, but it's getting more natual after 3 days to not touch them). Now smile wide to show your teeth. With your teeth showing swallow the water. if you have the correct seal with your tongue now water comes out of your teeth, it all gets swallowed.

One you've mastered that, what i did was start with 1/16 of a pill, then 1/4, then 1/2, then the whole pill. I've now moved on to those big centrum pills and I have swallowed them easily every day for the last 3 days.

It's unbelievable. Not only can I swallow now (and hey, it's easier to swallow big chunks of food then mushed up food - which is how I used to have to do it), but there have been several other benefits.

- After 3 days my tongue has cleared up 85%.
- My stomach used to be very bloated and hard to the touch, now it's probably 75% smaller
- For the first time in ages I'm now waking up tired (Although I haven't completely nailed the keeping my tongue at the top of my mouth while sleeping).

So, practice the technique above, and train your tongue to stay at the top of your mouth all day long.

I hope you get the same results I did !

Best of luck,


Anonymous said...

i had no idea there was so many people out there with the same problem, i can't swollow anysize pill, its driving me crazy if anybody has any answers to my delima please help


Anonymous said...

im a 20 year old college student with same problem... sometimes by random luck i swallow.. but most of the time no....

but i read peters comment at the bottom...
and after trying it, it worked

i didnt really swallow the pill.. the pill got sucked down
so that means ive been swallowing wrong for most of my life? x.x

Anonymous said...

Ya I have a hard time. I don't know if it's that my body is more careful or what. I actually just bought tic tacs and I'm basically downing them. Pop in and swallow easily. Next will be my meds. :)

Anonymous said...

glad to see I'm not the only one with this problem. I'm nearly 35 and until about ten years ago I never had a problem swallowing pills - any size! But over the last decade I've developed a phobia. I've managed to find chewable vitamins and paracetamol, but other pills pose problems. I do want to try therapy but in the meantime will try the message that Peter posted above (thanks for that).


Anonymous said...

Sorry, by post above has one typo, it should read:

For the first time in ages I'm **_NOT_** waking up tired (Although I haven't completely nailed the keeping my tongue at the top of my mouth while sleeping).

1 month going strong, a few technique hiccups, i suggest - if you are still having some difficulty, try pushing your tongue against the top/rear of your front teeth. That always gets me swallowing the largest sized food.

Good luck,


Anonymous said...

I am so glad to see that I am not alone! I found a way to get my awful, vile antibiotics down after much trial and error.

Fruit cocktail in heavy syrup. Take a bite of FC and chew it up, swallow it. This coats your tongue with the syrup.

Then another bite of FC and HALF a nasty pill. Chew it up all together and swallow a little. Keep shoveling the FC into your mouth by half teaspoons to keep diluting the taste.

Repeat with the other half of the pill.

Applesauce didn't work for me, neither did anything else. I may never eat fruit cocktail again but for now, it works. Good luck to us all!

Anonymous said...

One more thing.... there is a berry called MIRACLE FRUIT, (Synsepalum dulcificum Daniell
Sapotaceae) which when eaten will fool your tastebuds into thinking everything you eat is sweet. Nasty pills will taste like candy.

The berry itself is not legal to sell in the USA as far as I can see and the plants are hard to grow. I just ordered a plant from a Ft. Lauderdale, Florida nursery and will try my best to keep it alive.

The Japanese have managed to get this berry's active ingredient into a chewable pill form but this pill cannot be imported into the USA either. Perhaps you folks in other countries can get it.

Wish me luck on the cultivation of my Miracle Berry tree!

Anonymous said...

Guys... I was so happy to find this post. I may be the oldest freak here.. 56! Today I was prescribed 500mg of amoxicillin. I almost croaked when I was the size of these capsules. How the hell am I gonna get these down?? Gonna try to old emptythemintoapplesauce trick. I wonder how they make this stuff in the liquid form for kids?

Thanks for being here! And good luck to all you chokers.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone have any suggestions for taking extremely large gel capsules? If I'm taking anything else I'm usually okay, like with tylenol you can break it up or chew it, and those powder filled ones you can open them up and put them in jam or something, but I'm nervous about these gel caps and I haven't really been able to find any kind of a trick for them.

I read about those pill cups earlier in this thread, which sounds kind of helpful, maybe, but I'm in Canada and haven't seen any around. There has to be a work around for it or something.

I so hope somebody has a trick out there. Really hopin.

Anonymous said...

I just found a product at a health food store called Spray'n Swallow. You spray it on the pill and it slides right down. It has a very subtle cherry flavor. It has really worked for me even with the big pills. I put all the pills in a little bowl and sprayed them all at the same time. This has helped me with the whole psychological aspect, the fear of choking. I hope this helps someone.

Peter said...

To follow up on my previous posts.

My swallowing is going well 2 months on. Sometimes I forget, and I need to think about it again, but it is becoming more instintive.

I found a website which has a great overview on the causes of inability to swallow, and the correct way of swallowing:


Best of luck,


Anonymous said...

I'm 18 year old girl from the US, and I know you're feeling. I admit I can't swallow pills. I've tried everything, tilting my head, pulling my tongue out and tried swallowing it like that (without the interferance of the back of my tongue it sometimes goes down but I get sick afterward, which defeats the purpose).

I'm not sure why I can't swallow pills. In the end I end up taking them in powder form, after I've crushed them sensless. But even some pills you can't crush, bcause they are time release. I hate those.

Right now as we speak, I have to take some pills for my allergies. And they come in that plastic capsule. I've already taken it twice. Only not in pill form. I opened it up and spilled the contents into some jello, and ate it that way. The plastic capsules are really hard to swallow, unless you do it fast, which I can't.

I feel like I'm cheating, too. My parents don't know, they think I just need to grow up and swallow the pills, but it's hard for me. My uncle had the same problem up until he turned 35. I wonder how he got it.

I haven't been discovered yet. I just hope I don't need surgery, ever.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, I've figured out that fear and panic are what drives this phobia. I used to be able to swallow pills, admittedly with a tad bit of difficulty, but now it's impossible. My current problems stem from learning that I have a health problem that REQUIRES taking a pill two to three times a day for probably the rest of my life. And if I don't take them, then the consequences could be fatal. Well, my mind just freaked out and now I can't swallow them at all. I know it's totally psychological, so has anyone had luck with psychoanalysis or hypnosis? I'd be curious to hear about that.

Anonymous said...

I stumbled across this site to try to find a way to get over my late developed phobia. I never had an issue with pills until I was about 18 years old and I have to take antibiotics for an infection. They tasted HORRIBLE. What's worse is that after I swallowed them, I could taste them again whenever I belched (graphic but true). Now everytime I try to take a pill, I tense up because I believe they will taste like the antibiotic. And if I do successfully get it down, the memory of the disgusting pills cause my stomach to churn. I'm still dealing with this issue!!!

Anonymous said...

wow look like i found the right spot. this blog goes on for so long; 3 years! i'm 22 and i never had any problem swallowing pill until about a year ago. it just happened. there are even times that i find it hard to eat, especially when the food is dry and i'm not too hungry. i just can't go back and swallow like i could! i also found this interesting site with people who also can't swallow pill: http://www.pauldavidson.net/2004/08/21/i-cant-swallow-pills/

Anonymous said...

I am 28 and have never been able to swallow medium to large sized pills. I have to take some now that are not supposed to be chewed and decided to google for some help - hence finding your blog. It is good to know I am not alone! But why don't the pharmaceuticals make smaller pills? I would not mind taking 10 tiny pills as opposed to 1 huge one that... really... I will chew! So frustrating!

Anonymous said...

Not being able to swallow pills makes things so inconvenient. Trust me, I know...it's even worse being in the hospital or at the doctor's office in serious pain, then being prescribed some pills and everyone assumes that you'll be just fine with it.

But for the life of me, I could never take painkiller pills every time I was thrown in the hospital. No matter what I tried... applesauce, water, food in general... it never went down. My mother is a doctor, and she was so disappointed in me (I'm 17, and my younger brother was able to take them years sooner than me).

Finally, when I started going on the BC pill, I tried using a water bottle...and all of a sudden, I was able to swallow. The water bottle gets it down because of the way you drink from it, and once it's been down your throat, fear is erased and in the future you can just take a handful of water and swallow any size pill with just that. For me it was like a miracle...I don't know if it will work for you, but it did for me, and I was notoriously bad at taking pills for my whole life up until a few months ago. At least give it a try if you're having problems...put the pill on your tongue, then take a swig of water and don't be afraid to swallow it. Once you're past the first hurdle, it's as easy as everyone says!

Anonymous said...

This makes me feel so much better cause i thought i was the only person who didnt know how to swallow pills. I mean i can swallow ice hole but for some reason i cant swallow pills.

Anonymous said...

Im 22, male, and to repeat the above, NEVER taken a pill! when i had glandular fever i had sleeping tablets to take to help me sleep at night - oh boy wud i have loved those but tablets? i dont think so. i did try. i puked though in the process, making me feel upset and stressed out...

so yeah i use calpol (kids paracetomol but by the dozen) and always ask for a liquid alternative when at the doctors. its embarassing, and i get the feeling they hate prescribing liquid forms because it costs them more money, and also for me it means the pharmacist never has it in stock...ugh!

Anonymous said...

I am 24 years old and i cant swallow pills easily, well, at least until yesterday when i stumbled upon this blog. I have tried Peter's technique and it works great! Easy to swallow 750mg pills. Thanks dude! :)

- Get the pill with some water in your mouth.
- Push the tongue against the top of your mouth.


Anonymous said...

I'm another person who has had difficulty taking pills. I never used any smaller ones when I was younger and now I'm stuck with 500mg Cephalexin Monohydrate for my throat infection that I just can't get down. I also had actually had a psychological problem with swallowing food when I was younger, so I never was at swallowing solids. But I just realised that I have also been swallowing 'the wrong way' my whole life. I just tried Peter's method and it completely worked! I got the pill down in 5 min (still quite bad really lol) instead of 20+ minutes of trying then crunching it after it dissolved. So thanks much!

Also, nice blog! I came across it when searching for answers on the issue.

Anonymous said...

well i know how to take pills..but now gigantic one's........my doctor gave me this pill that i have to swallow everday...and i have to take three of them ...every single freakin day...well it's hard..it takes me forever....and i hate taking it....i know i'm not supposed to cut them..but i did...because it was just to hard.....but my mom and i are gonna go talk to a pharmacist about powder..or chewables..or maybe a smaller size

Anonymous said...

Oh I have a problem swallowing pills. 24 year old male, never been able to do it. And I mean never, as in, I never have. Only pills. I have taken your first steps to heart, I don't get sick, I occasionally have wanted to take a motrin for a headache or muscle pain. I grind it up. I recently found a liquid pain reliever (not for kids!)- acetaminophen only (wont dissolve in a liquid). But yeah, I always wonder what will happen when I am supposed. I imagine it will be accidental.

Anonymous said...

I was also never able to swallow pills, up until a few days ago. My best friends brother just taught me the technique. He said put the pill in your mouth, drink a little water, tilt your head either forward or backward (depending on if the pill floats or sinks - you want it close to the back of your throat) and then he said look at any object about 10 feet away. Point at it with your finger and say the object in your head at the same time you swallow. For example, I sit at my desk across from a sign that says "conference room". I put the pill in my mouth with some water and pointed at the sign and said those words and swallow. It went down beautifully. I was extremely skeptical when he told me, but the next day at work I tried it with my pre-natal and it worked! And it's been working for the past 3 days. I no longer have a fear like I did when I used to see a pill that big. He said he's only not been able to teach one person this and everyone else he has told about it has learned how to swallow now. Try it out and spread the word!

Anonymous said...

I just swallowed a horse-pill - I've never done that before!

Thankyou sooo much everyone! I am a 28yr old woman from Aust, and just bought these pre-pregnancy multi-vitamins (full-well knowing that I wouldn't be able to swallow them!!) but too embarrassed to ask for an alternative. The only pills I have been able to swallow are my teeny-tiny birthcontrol pills. So, naturally, yesterday when i tried to swallow one of these 'horse' capsule multivitamins my heart started racing, it started dissolving in my mouth, and I felt like throwing up, so I resorted to crushing and mixing in honey. I have felt like a fool all these years, everyone showing me how easy it is and giving me their useless tips! However, after googling my problem today I found this site. There are more like me, I was so relieved.

So, I tried a mixture of 2 techniques ... Peter's one of a different type of swallowing (bearing my teeth) and the later one suggesting to point and saying an object at the same time (for me, it was a neighbours TV antenna out my window). The massive horsepill went down!!!! I couldn't believe it! I only hope it continues, I really want the vitamins to make sure I have a healthy baby one day.

Unknown said...

I'm 39 and never used to have a problem with swallowing pills until about 5 years ago. I just tried Peter's suggestion - placing the tongue on the roof of the mouth and closing the back teeth and it works! Thank you so much!

Anonymous said...

I am so thankful I found this blog. I felt like I was the only one who had trouble swallowing pills. My doctor even makes fun of me and tells me I am his only patient that can't swallow pills. (I am 38 and have never been able to swallow pills) All I can do is crush them and that tastes horrible!!! I have searched the internet and can't seem to find anything to help.

Glad to know I am not alone

Anonymous said...

Wow! This post goes on forever!
Anyways, I am an 18 year old who can't swallow pills. I know how all of you are feeling. Right now I have to swallow a giant pill and I am struggling. I am going to try peter's method then the other one about pionting and swallowing.
Wish me luck!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I'm fifteen years old and I just went to the dermotologist and I have to take a 500mg capsule and I have no idea why. This morning I tried to shallow it and it just wouldn't go down, so I had to make an icey drink with the powder inside. It tasted nasty and took 45 minutes to eat it :[ I just can't do it and my one friend makes fun of me because i can't even take midol or asprin.

Anonymous said...

wow...I have had so many traumatic pill choking incidents. For me, its more than a phobia, I'm actually convinced that my throat is abnormally small and/or theres a problem with my flapper thingy.

Then I read Pete's post, and it seems to be true since Ive discovered that I do infact swallow with my toungue touching my teeth rather than the roof of my mouth. However, Ive been trying to swallow water now the correct way with my tounge at the roof of my mouth, but even that has been making me fearful for whatever reason. I cant even try to swallow a pill with this method I am terribly traumatized.

Im almost 21, and Ive had 4 different "near death" experiences swallowing large pills, and will never try again. Its much easier for me to trick myself into thinking Mmm this pill tastes great and chew it.

I hope you all can overcome this problem, but I know theres no hope for me.

Oh and I loved tylenol Go tabs (adult chewables) but they have been discontinued!!!!! Grrrrrr!

Anonymous said...

Im 14 and i wish i could swallow pills but i cant. i know its all in my mind too but its soo annoying. people are ALWAYS telling me "you need to learn."
how? I know all the techniques, but when i try to swallow i panic and my tongue blocks the pill so only the water goes down and that'll go on for 10 minutes :(
i happy i found this so at least i know theres actually A LOT of people like me and if i end up never being able to do it then yeah, im not the only one. :)

Unknown said...


Don't get discouraged, if you have the same symptoms as I discussed above then you need to practice the technique.

It's not that your tongue can't touch your front teeth - it's that you can't let your front teeth open so that your tongue pokes through and breaks the "seal" it created in your mouth.

I suggest you start with very small amounts of water, close your back teeth together and push your tongue up against the back of your front teeth (maybe try visualizing that your tongue has created a seal that will not let any air in to the inside of your mouth).

After not too long it will become more natural and in fact will feel uncomfortable doing it the old way.

Hope that helps,


Anonymous said...

I am so glad to know I am not alone! I can swallow itty bitty pills like birth control pills, but none any bigger than that. And I was just prescribed a medication that cost me $114 so I HAVE to figure out a way to get it down. I am going to try the pointing and swallowing method, but the one about putting your tongue on you teeth thing...can't do it. Good luck to all of you!

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU for writing this blog. I am 17 and sitting in my room, dreading the fact that I have to take a birth control pill [aka the smallest pill i've ever seen], and thinking to myself..there has to be some kind of swallowing tips or something on the internet. ANYTHING. So I googled "i'm afraid to swallow pills". And feeling quite pathetic I stumbled across this. Thank you. Although I am still..dreading..and horrified at the idea pof something so blunt going down my throat. I must say that I feel a little better about not being the only one.

Anonymous said...

I, too, have always had trouble swallowing larger pills. There are two tips that I have gotten that seem to help. Place the pill towards the back of your tongue for both of these, obviously...the first is to push your tongue against your teeth when you swallow - it opens up the throat. The second is to tilt your head down as you swallow - that also opens up the throat. I still have some problems but that has helped me in the past. Hope that helps. Good luck all!

Anonymous said...

i am a 16 year old female from the uk.
i have never been able to swallow any kinds of tablets! :(
i try and try to swallow, and even with water i cant get it down. i have a worry that its going to get stuck in my throat. im so glad im not the only one with a phobia of swallowing tablets!

Anonymous said...

I'm 18 from London, couldn't swallow pills till i was about 16, but then a few months ago something just changed and I couldn't swallow pills however hard i tried. I've got tonsilitis at the moment which makes even swallowing my own spit painful, but using Peters method I just took two painkillers! To most people that would be nothing, but I'm delighted. Just off now to try and take some antibiotics, hopefully it'll be fine,
Thanks Peter!

Anonymous said...

i'm like a 14 year old. all my classmates are able to swallow pills. and i'm like the only one who can't.i feel like stupid unable to swallow. i calm down and try to focus on swallowing. then when i put it in my mouth and try to swallow it down,i just spit out. figuring this solid thing is going down my throat scares me. and i'm going for heart op soon,hopefully i can get over this soon.

Anonymous said...

I used to have a big problem swallowing pills when I was younger. I think the trick sometimes is to put the pill as far back as you can on your tongue so it just goes straight down your throat quickly.

Also if the pill is to big sometimes I'll coat it in olive oil to help it along the way.

- exclusive - said...

I'm 21 and I have the same problem. I always kinda thought I was strange because I never met anyone else who couldn't swallow pills. I must admit I'm a chewer - or at least enough to make it smaller, but even small pieces it takes alot for me to force myself to swallow it. Having done the routine described - head tilting, tons of water, etc. so many times I've pretty much given up trying anymore. But I've never had to take a real presciption until now (antibiotics)...so I'm concerned I should have figured it out by now. Does crushing/chewing make the medicine any less effective?

Anonymous said...

I am over 60 and can swallow small pills, but now I have to swallow two large pills every morning and two again at night. I chew them a little. I bought some calcium "petite" pills that sure do not look very small to me!!! I can not wait to try the suggestions for swallowing my pills in the morning!!! Thanks for the suggestions. anonymous

Anonymous said...

I was trying to find out if chewing pills, or cutting them up is bad and makes them ineffective, and I stumbled upon this. I'm really glad to see I'm not the only person like this. I may only be a 15 year old, but I can't go to a regular doctor until I swallow. I went through about 50 mini M&Ms and half a bottle of water trying to practice. I had one really close, but the gag reflex kicked in before I could get it down. I need to go to a psychiatrist (or the one that gives you medication. I cant never remember which one is which) to get some anti-depressants, at least I think I need them. I talked to some I know who takes them and they use capsules, which doesn't help me at all. I sure hope there is pill version of anti-depressants or I'm in trouble!

William said...

I found this site when trying to figure out if these vitamins I bought were chewable or not. I tried to chew after finding nothing. It was like eating battery acid.

Anyway, I used to have problems with pills, much as you do. I used to need benadryl with a fair amount of regularity, which cured me of this problem: they're uncoated and taste terrible.

My method is to get a mouthful of water first, drop the pill in and swallow. This takes the pill past your throat and into your esophagus quickly and quietly without any taste. I find that having the water after the pill is in your mouth either floods your mouth with bad pill-taste or ends with the pill stuck behind your uvula... which ends up with bad pill-taste, anyway, but this time worse because it's in a place you can't hit with another flavor easily.

If I have to take a pill without water (which I often do), I get up a large amount of saliva first. The trick to me isn't swallowing the pill, it's swallowing with the pill, y'know?

Your writing style's incredibly captivating, by the way. Keep it up!

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad I'm not alone! I'm a 25 year old female and I've never been able to swallow pills of any size or shape. As soon as I put one in my mouth I start to gag. It feels so large that I'm convinced that I'm never going to be able to swallow it whole. I don't understand the idea of wrapping the pill into something else because to me that would make something even larger to get down my throat that wont open! I think it stems from not liking the sensation of sommething I've not chewed going down my throat. And I know its completely psycological but can I convince myslef to calm down and swallow...no! Even if I do manage to get one down my neck I then have to try and remain calm otherwise I'll just start to panic and I'll bring it back up!

And now I'm off traveling and I'm faced with the next 5 months of having to take malaria tablets every day!

Anonymous said...

Hi all, I'm 21 and I can pretty much swallow pills with no worries except for the long capsule types. Have to take anti-biotics now and the only way I can do so is to open a can of soft drink, take a mouthful of it, pop the pill in my mouth and swallow. The bubbles and fizziness help enormously that i can't feel the capsule in my mouth and I swallow without any problems. I'm a bit worried that the acid or whatevers in coke will affect the pill though...does anyone think it would? Anyway, this method definetely works!!

Anonymous said...

I can't swallow pills either, but I was just reading up on a method that might work: First grind up the pill really small. Then put it in a sweet drink (I heard orange juice works best). Then fill a second cup with a drink you really like (obviously not alcohol!). Drink the first drink like you would gulp a shot of alcohol and then drink the second to get rid of the nasty taste. I haven't tried it but it sounds like it could work. Good Luck!

Unknown said...

omg! i feel so much better. i am not a lonley pill freak! i have many a pill freak with me. *sigh of relief* now we should ban together and force these drug companies to make everything (or at least the basics - i.e. pain killers) in liquid form! pill freaks unite!


Anonymous said...

I'm 24 and still have a lot of trouble swallowing pills. I take birth control (the smallest pill in existence) daily, which isn't a problem if I have a carbonated beverage with it, but water just won't do. I don't like feeling pills go down I guess, and water only makes them feel bigger. Anyway, I get frequent migraines, and this one time I was at a former boyfriend's house and had a horrible one...his mother tried to force asprin down my throat saying it would help...yeah, I WOULD help, but the pressure made it much worse. She shoved the excedrin in my mouth and held the bottle of water up until I swallowed the pill...unfortunately, I never swallowed it and gagged up the water (and the pill) all over the carpet. I've also had to take anti-biotics for an ear infection, and I know you're not supposed to break them up, but I did anyway and took it in apple sauce. It tasted aweful and gave me a terrible stomach ache...my doctor even told me NEVER to crush anti-biotics because of it's effects on the stomach. I only took 5 out of the 7 pills I was supposed to take because of the anxiety of getting it down and the horrible after-effect of crushing them...I think I only swallowed one of them and the rest were crushed after getting frustrated. I always dread having to take anti-biotics because they're usually in capsule form or just really big. I'm not worried about pain medications because they're usually small and can be broken up...well, if drug addicts sniff pain meds, then obvioulsy breaking them up doesn't have a negative effect...although time release is a concern. I just wish I could swallow pills to make things much easier.

Anonymous said...

I'm a 17year old girl from Australia and I cannot swallow pills to save my life! My dad's a doctor and he just finds my "phobia" ridiculous, so i recieve a lot of torment from home, so it's good to know that I'm not the only one who suffers from this. If only there were some way to swallow pills easily! I'm currently struggling with large capsules, but no matter what i do, i can't swallow! :[

Anonymous said...

Very interesting to read all the comments. I googled this because my Dad has lost his ability to swallow pills with progressive Alzheimer's disease. I came here to find out solutions for the problem, but looks like my present method could help others.

My Dad does most of the things described ie. biting capsules and tablets and spitting it out because it tastes yucky. Lately I ask him to pop his tongue out and place the meds at base of his tongue (like when I dose my little cat) and push it down with my own finger. (Hands washed clean with antibiotic soap etc). Then the tiniest sip of water so he doesnt gag and bring it up. Yes, its not the best way but the quickest and easiest.

I dont think its just phobia or all in the mind. It could also be the ability to swallow whole stuff that is not premashed in the mouth is lost or not present in some people. And dont worry about whether its manly or not!!

Anonymous said...


I found this blog about a month ago searching for alternatives to applesauce for taking pills. My 15 year old daughter has never been able to swallow pills and she was getting sick of applesauce. Peter's post saved us!! My daughter has a small mouth and probably never learned to change her swallowing. I've coached her to swallow the 'adult' way and she is now successfully swallowing her once-a-day dose of one small round pill.

I've never posted on a blog before but I really needed to say


Anonymous said...

Hey Everyone

I can sit in a room for hours and put the tablet in and out of my mouth till its all soggy without any luck. Most of the time I break out in tears because of frustration.

Sometimes I'm lucky and the tablet will go down accidentally, but usually it's a nightmare.

When taking tablets, I either take them with a thick yoghurt or smoothie. I chuck the tablet in, close my eyes, and take spoonfools and just swallow hoping i dont feel the tablet.

=) Good luck guys...we're not alone

Anonymous said...

I just found out a way 2 days ago using 500 mg Amoxicillin capsules.

Basically, when you chew food it eventually goes to that one spot at the back of your mouth seconds before you swallow it.

At first I just place the pill anywhere in my mouth, then I get a bit of water. I move it to that back part of my mouth, put my self in the postition where im just about to swallow, then I swallow it and it goes down without any problems.

The only thing that prevented me from doing this strategy was fear of choking, but when I actually attempted it, it just worked.

Anonymous said...

If there was ever a blog meant for me... Hello fellow chewable seekers, I'm so relieved to see it's not just me :)

I'm 34 and as of two weeks ago have to take blood pressure pills. They're almost as small as birth control pills so I can get them down. Now I’ve had a glimpse of the ease of pill taking. Because of this I got gutsy and figured if I can do that I should eventually be able to graduate up the pill ladder to a multivitamin… theoretically. Frustration anyone? I've had a little bit of success with a half or sometimes whole regular Advil. But my tongue just likes to be difficult and plays interference. I've spit out so many nasty tasting half dissolved pills for my recent efforts. I'm ready to scream and am at the point now where I’m refusing to chew it, mix it with food or crush it in apple sauce or yogurt (I’ve found the fat free kind with aspartame to be the best, it’s tart and covers the bitterness well FYI). I’ve done this for 20 years and I’m starting a rebellion against my tongue. I'm on a mission - I MUST swallow it or as punishment I’m going to have to live with my headache. I suppose that doesn't help psychologically. I've even been thinking of hypnotherapy. I tried again earlier tonight and it just wasn't happening.

This brings me to the purpose of this blog.

Peter, I think I love you... After reading your trick (that’s the first time I’ve heard this one), I ran to try it. It seems that concentrating so hard on having my tongue in the right spot ALMOST takes my mind off of the pill. It did take a minute but I downed two in a row (usually I can only do one and the other goes to waste)!!!!! I put the pill far back on my tongue as I could and used cool (not cold) water. Hope is alive again!

My doctor is used to me. Maybe this will be the end of some pharmacist’s stink eye! LOL :)

Anonymous said...

I am 13 years old and have not been able to swallow a pill my whole life... until today.

All i had to do was let the water run down into my throat, and then swallow...remember to take a huge gulp. And now I can take giant 1000 mg fish oil pills! those are HUGE, but now they just glide right down. Id say that 99 percent of pill taking is mental... you cant be a wimp!

Corey said...

Wowwwww.. Thank you SO much for this blog. I am a 21 year old female and have never been able to swallow pills. This past weekend I got terribly sick(I work with kids) and the doctor prescribed me medicine to swallow. I guess I knew that I had to take it so for three straight days, I was able to do it. It always took me a minute, but I always got it. After that, I thought I was cured of my phobia. Well, I am sick again. I tried last night to swallow medicine. I went through over 10 PILLS. Each time, I ended up spitting them out. Afterwards, I came here and read the blog because I was feeling very depressed.

I tried Peter's idea about smiling and the tongue, and I must say, it did work. It took me a few minutes but I got all the pills down!

Gosh...glad to hear I'm not alone!

Unknown said...

I'm about to take this capsule that contains radiation for my Grave's disease, and I'm not allowed to crush it. The other option is surgery. Which would you guys rather do?

Anonymous said...

I just recently found out that I've got Grave's disease and I need to swallow this capsule filled with radiation. THe other option is surgery. Which would u guys rather prefer?

Anonymous said...

I'm an 18 year old girl from the Netherlands and because of my fear of choking (used to choke on all kinds of food when I was younger) I also have a very hard time swallowing pills, capsules etc. Here's my tip for everyone else who's struggling with this, what I usually do is I will chew on a few pieces of bread, and wait until I feel my swallowing reflex. Then I quickly put the pill/capsule in my mouth, and swallow it together with the bread. Works every time for me :) Good luck everyone!

Anonymous said...

Oh dear...I'm exactly the same way. I'm a 17 year old girl, and I have this reoccuring condition that requires you to take LOTS of pills...that I, of course, cannot swallow. Every time I ask for chewables or liquids from my doctor he either gives me an 'are you kidding?' look or actually laughs like I'm such a sissy...but I'm normally a really nervous person, and I freeze up every time I try to swallow any kind of medicine. I can only swallow tiny pills, after a long amount of effort. I'd rather deal with the disgusting-make-you-wretch-crushed-up-pill-taste any day than swallow one of the GIANT things I have now!

Anonymous said...

Thank you Peter! I dont know who you are but your technique really helped me. It was so easy doing it like that!

If anyone else reads this and cant swallow pills find Peters post and follow it.

Thanks Peter!

Anonymous said...

Hey 19 year old male here, only been able to swallow once or twice.

One trick ive used sometimes is to stick my tongue out of my mouth, hold it with one hand and throw the pill down my throat with the other. You kinda have to fight your natural gag reflex, and its not really fun to do but you do what you have to do.

But what Ive just noticed (YES I just swallowed a pill!) Is that you have to put that pill pretty far on your tongue. I pushed it back until I started to feel the gag reflex, stayed calm (didnt let myself gag or spit out the pill) and it magically went down.

Hopefully Im as successful tomorrow!

Anonymous said...

oh my god I have that problem. I've tried so many different methods but none of them work. I usually just chew them and it's okay, it tastes gross but at least it gets into my stomach right? But today I got hurt a while back and thy made me get this anti biotic and it's HUGE and my mom said I can't crush it. I seriously thought my life was over. But of course she had to stand there yelling at me to take it and not leaving unitl I swallowed it down somehow. I askwd if she coukd get a liquid version but she said that thw pharmacist laughed when she mentioned that her sixteen year old daughter couldn't swallow pills. So after about ten minutes I chewed it but I couldn't chew it because the outside was rubbery. So after a few more minutes I swallowed the half down pretty much feeling like I was choking and going to barf. The taste lasted for 2 hours! I hate antibiotics and what sucks is that I have to eat three a day until they're all gone. It's torture.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I'm an 18 yr old female from canada, and I know exactly what this is like, i definitely think it's partially psychological. I know I'm not as old as many of the people here but I want to try and fix this problem sooner rather than later! I think Peter's post might actually help. I have strep throat, and am allergic to penicillin so they gave me these other pills. 500mg tablets - they are huge. I took them yesterday by putting them in yogurt( it was the first time i have ever swallowed a pill!), but today i couldn't do it. What I don't get is how they expect me to swallow this massive pill when it hurts to swallow, talk, eat etc? I guess it's my own fault, i asked for liquid and it was going to be 100$, whereas the pills are only 50$. I'm tired of struggling with this problem. I avoid pills at all costs, pretending I am not sick, sleeping away headaches etc, but when absolutely necessary i try crushing them in syrup. Even then it's got my gag reflex going, so if I am nauseuas that doesn't work either. I have tried crushing them in other things, but the taste makes me gag. I can't believe we all have this same problem yet when I tell people this they just laugh in my face. I just spent the last probably 20 min trying to swallow one of these pills and I only got half down in a spoonful of syrup chased with eggnog, the taste was so nasty, i'm not sure i can do it again. YUCCCKK. so frustrating. I wish I didn't panic about it. Why is it such a big deal to me? Maybe I should see counselling. I don't remember any traumatic choking incidences but that does sound reasonable. But I can swallow big bites, or gulps of yogurt or whatever but as soon as i know the pill is in my mouth it's like i forget how to swallow. I am scared of puking it back up too. UUUUGHHHH. I guess for tonight the syrup will have to do, but I have at least 10 more pills to take this week, and I'm sure later in my life pills will appear . . . I wish us all good luck on our endeavor to swallow!

Anonymous said...

I was on Tetracycline years ago and had great difficulty swallowing the 2 capsules every day. Also, the pills made me feel nauseated. My Dermatologist gave me the best advice:

With capsules, tilt your head down as you swallow (chin towards chest) the pills will float easily down your throat with the liquid. Her trick worked like a charm!!!! She also suggested I take the 2 capsules before bed and to make sure to take plenty of water with it so they can dissolve properly in the stomach and not get stuck in the esophagus. Anyway, I stopped feeling nauseated after I switched to taking both pills prior to going to bed. (Her advice for hard pills was to tilt my head back but that doesn't work for me).

Now, I am on time released Wellbutrin which is a hard, round pill; I cannot chew them or they become useless. I just cannot get myself to swallow the pill.... I am going to try Peter's suggestion, bet that will help, thanks much, Peter!

Anonymous said...

Peter's method really does work. I tried it first with milk but was unable to swallow the pill. Later, I tired it with Jelly using Peter's method and it worked, it took a few minutes to relax enough to actually swallow the pill but after that, it became much easier. One caveat, find a jelly with less sugar because the grape jelly was sickening sweet.

Use Peter's method, only try it with something thick and soft like jelly, pudding, jello etc. and you too, will be able to finally swallow your own medicine.

Anonymous said...

I understand. I am an 18 year old girl in college in the US, and I struggle with this problem too. I worry that this phobia will hold me back for my whole life. This problem coupled with my irrational fear of driving is really crushing. I worry that I won't be able to keep a job or that I will suffer because I can't take the medicine I need. I recently fond out I have acid reflux disease, so now my options are: suffer nearly constant heart burn and stomach pains or take a pill. Sadly I feel more omfortable with the pain. I think I will go see a therapist.

Anonymous said...

I am 15 year old male from Australia. I thought this was abnormal until I saw this blog.

I just can't swallow any tablets or pills, even those with a film coat or gel caps. I don't know why exactly, but I always have the feeling that this pill/tablet that i take, I might choke on it. Very strange...

To solve the problem, I chew or sometimes grind the tablet/pill though it tastes awful. No pain no gain!

I hope someone can help this fear of mine and my fellow sufferers!


Rory O'Callaghan said...

Hello friends,
I feel like I've found my own version of AA. I am a 26 year old PHARMACIST who has never been able to swallow pills, ugh, the shame!!!God forbid I ever really get sick, because so many pills you SHOULD NOT crush!

Rory O'Callaghan said...

p.s. Please do ask your pharmacist if you can chew or crush your pills! There are often alternatives which are ok to crush and children's version are often in similar stregnths b/c kiddos metabolize faster. I know it's humiliating, trust me, but best to ask.

Anonymous said...

I searched for "phobia of pill swallowing" and got to your site.

Right now I have just one last capsule that refuses to go down (the other pills went down after my father literally shouted at me, 1 was hidden in my ice cream and another in a piece of bread, haha), and am about to start crying. My usual rouine is to open capsules but I can't do that with time-based pills and the capsul in question now literally burnt my tongue (hence the antacid that was prescribed along with it) and made me throw up a while later.

Not be pessimist here, but I don't think there is really a "cure" for this, in terms of physical aids or even telling yourself to calm down.

Have you tried getting mad at yourself? I know it sounds lame, but once I get really, really exasperated with how I have this phobia I throw the damn pill in and swallow with all my might.

And alleluia, down it goes.

I hope it works tonight.

Anonymous said...


Ever since I almost choked trying to swallow a humongous centrum vitamin pill, I have had difficulties swallowing pills in general, and recently found I couldnt swallow my 500mg antibiotic.

But I have now regained my ability to pill swallow! I am confident that most people can take pills if they do it THE RIGHT WAY. This is something that no one ever thought of teaching to us!

Heres how!

First thing's first: Learn the proper way to swallow, as Peter said in his post. More information here: http://library.thinkquest.org/5029/tongue.htm

This could take practice depending on your usual way of swallowing. Personally I do swallow this way sometimes, but not always -especially when I am consciously aiming to swallow a pill-.

If you get this right, you are half way there. The next part is swallowing everything that is in your mouth at once. This might not be helpful for everyone but in my case it prooved absolutely esential.

-When you are drinking water from a bottle or glass you often keep sipping small amounts of water flow continuously. This works against you when you want to swallow pills.

-What you have to do is, put a little water in your mouth, stop pouring in water then just swallow down that water+pill together.

-If you just swallow a little water each moment, the water goes past the pill, the pill "floats" in the stream, and you end up drinking the water and not the pill.

-So here is the whole procedure that has worked like a charm for me.

A) Put out your tongue, then place the pill, about mid-way in, and let it rest in the middle or inner part of the tongue (too deep will cause choking)
B) Drink some water, just a small sip that you can drink at once
C) At the same time as (B) move your tongue up to press against the inner part of the mouth
D) Immediately after that, gulp the contents of your mouth, *ALL AT ONCE*. Otherwise only the water will go down and the pill will float around in your mouth.
E) After you swallow, you'll notice that along with the water the pill is also magically gone!

-You have to swallow both water and pill simultaneously in one big gulp otherwise it wont work.
-Don't use too large amounts of water, a small - medium volume is enough.
-If the pill sticks on your tongue or the upper part of the inner mouth, drink a little more water-this moves the pill around a bit to get it to unstuck

-If you do this right, you wont even feel the pill going down. It will feel like you are only swallowing water (no more gag reflex!)
-It worked like a charm for my 500mg antibiotic!

God bless you!

April Clemmons said...

Well here it is years later and people are still finding your post!
I have never been able to swallow pills whole. I will cut or crush them up. When my wisdom teeth were removed I crushed my percoset in to a cup and took em with a shot of dr. Pepper.
Now I am on a cleanse and its about 6 huge pills a day. I crushed them last night and put in a smoothie & thought I was going to puke but this morning I tried the technique above and it was awesome. I used about half a glass of juice and that was it! Normally it would have taken 2 or 3 glasses!
Thank you sooo much!
~April C.

Anonymous said...

This is a common problem. Some medications are inactivated by the stomach acid and are NOT EFFECTIVE if crushed or chewed. I'm a physician and I recommend to my patients that they take their pills with their fluid of choice (cold is usually best) by DRINKING STRAW. For CAPSULES (which will "float" in the mouth) tip your chin DOWN, for tablets, just the normal head position is best. Good luck!!

Anonymous said...

I'm a 40-year-old man who's never swallowed a pill in my life. Glad to see I'm not alone. I don't think I have the general swallowing problem Peter mentioned; it's probably all psychological for me (probably related to the time I almost choked on a cough drop as a kid). I'm hoping some of the techniques I found here will help.

Anonymous said...

Thank you to everyone here for making me feel like I'm not alone! I got some 500g antibiotics in capsule form from the doc yesterday and only 20 minutes ago, summoned up the courage to go to the bathroom and swallow it. I followed the famous Peter's technique and presto! down it went with no trouble at all. THANK YOU!

Anonymous said...

I'm almost 14 and I can't swallow pills whatsoever. I have thyroid disease and the pill is SO small, but I have to split in half to take it. And I was just recently diagnosed with a kidney infection so my doc has me on two pills right now. One's a capsule with three little pills inside.. I have to crush them up and put them in some honey to take them. The other one is a purple-colored pill, bigger than the others and is coated with sugar. I tried chewing some of it and i was about to throw up. I spit it out it tasted like friggen hell!! I dunno what to do. But I sincerely hope that everyone here accomplishes taking their pills! Best of wishes, kayles

Anonymous said...

Add me to the list of people who Peter has helped. 33 years old. Chewed pills all my life... couldn't even swallow a small tablet whole. Part of it was a mental block, but the swallowing technique was key.

"The way you are supposed to swallow is that you close your jaw (back teeth touching) and (MOST IMPORTANT) push your tongue up against the top of your mouth."

I am not a full-time "tongue thruster" however, when I get stressed out over a pill, my body seems to revert to that habit.

Forcing myself to swallow properly, tongue tip pressed firmly on the roof of my mouth, rather than the whole tongue pressed against the entire roof of my mouth when "tongue thrusting" is key.

It took me a few tries... I gagged on my first try - got the pill most of the way down but gagged it back up, gave up on a second, but when it worked... there was no turning back. It was like a switch.

I still get a bit nervous before I take a pill, only take one at a time, and make a slight production out of the ordeal (really focusing on the effort.. it's not something I can do without thinking about the technique.. yet), but it works every time now.

Thanks for this blog post. Thanks Peter for the suggestion. I knew that someday I'd have to get over this fear. Glad it finally came. I was convinced I had some large tongue / small throat issue. Not the case. Just wasn't doing it right. I do have a sensitive gag reflex, and have choked on food/candy a few times in my life, but that only added to my mental block... not a physical issue.

Anonymous said...

I forgot to mention in the last comment... another thing I was doing wrong was using TOO MUCH water to swallow. Just a small sip is all it takes.

Often I would end up with way too much water in my mouth and that made the pill swallowing far worse.

Anonymous said...

I'm a 24yo female from the US and I have to say that I can be added to the list of those who have issues swallowing pills. I've got an insanely quick gag reflex, so chewables have always been issues for me as well (same as liquid).

It took until I was 19 before I could even take a small Aleve tablet. (I had to learn to take half a 550mg Naproxen for massive cramping..that took months to be able to do without problems.) Now I'm able to get a Midol, but that's about it, and the only ways I can do it are 1) applesauce or 2) with a carbonated beverage (gingerale, Sprite, etc).

I was looking around online about being unable to swallow pills and came across this blog entry. As much as I would love to try Peter's method, at current I cannot. Three days ago I had my wisdom teeth removed, so swallowing is quite painful (and I really can't touch my back teeth together yet, either). Somehow, though, I'm supposed to take 500mg Amoxicillin capsules 4 times a day. I feel like I want to cry, it's so frustrating.

Glad to see that I'm not alone in this.

(Also, several other methods of pill taking that have been mentioned I am unable to do - tried in the past and gagged/choked.)

Anonymous said...

I have never been able to swallow a whole pill. But I learned to just put the pill toward my back teeth, quickly bite on it without touching my tongue to the pill (as I don't want to taste it), then swiftly drink orange juice! It is easy to swallow this way, as I feel like I am "chewing" on food, so the process is psychologically easier.

I cannot use water; it's too thin. Chocolate-flavored milk or pulp orange juices are thicker, so they push the pill down as you bite on it quickly, then gulp back and swallow.

So, I have NEVER had to take an antibiotic capsule until this week. Yikes. My pharmacist said I could open the pill and pour the contents in applesauce. I did that, and folded the applesauce over the medicine, then scooped up a big whole spoonful, and gulped it down with orange juice. I did it, but I could taste the bitter medicine.

So, last night and this morning, I put the entire capsule in the applesauce and waited for it to soften. Then scooped up the applesauce and the pill and tried to swallow it. It took a few seconds for the pill to soften more in my mouth, and when it was soft, I drank some orange juick, and I bit the pill in half (and tasted just a smidge of the med), but it was easy to swallow the pill this way, as it was soft and squishy now, and not hard and capsule-like!

Good luck out there! You're not alone!

-Eileen in California

Anonymous said...

What can i do? I seriously dont know what i can do to swallow pills. The first time I tried i put water in my mouth and when i put the pill in I just swallowed the water, and the pill just kept coming back to the top of my mouth and would not go down and because I tried so many times the coating stuff was starting to come off and it was really gross. I also tried putting the water in after but that didnt work either and i really dont want to chew the pills because there really bitter and make me want to gag. I am 17 years old and I dont know what to do. Everytime i try to swallow pills it doesnt work and my sisters and parents laugh at me because they can all do it like a piece of cake and think I'm retarded because i can't. Please help!

Anonymous said...

Thank you! thank you! for writing this blog... it has actually made me smile and laugh as I have also always had this problem... and thought I was the only one!
I have all the same symptoms... striding around the room...sitting, standing, holding onto things... thinking about it the night before... and the occasional cheaky chew...my brain just doesn't comprehend the command...SWALLOW! even if i swallow large amounts of water miraculously the pill remains like a lead weight in my mouth! On a few occasions in my life I have somehow overcome this and managed to swallow tablets...(I feel proud about this... but they were FEW occasions) but they are never big tablets and I usually have good and bad days... the one occasion was when I had to swallow malaria tablets and I chewed them the day before and the bitterness nearly killed me! but it was an ordeal and I am usually shaky afterwards!
Anyway thank you for writing this blog its nice to know there are others out there!

Lisa said...

I am a 45 year old woman.. somebody's MOTHER and I struggle with taking pills. I can take an all white pill that is not a capsule if I lecture myself. However, if the pill is in capsule form OR has any colors on it at all I get funky and have to resort to wrapping it in bread to take it. This sounds like the perfect solution right? I'm not supposed to have gluten.. so bread is not my friend any more.

Anonymous said...

I just had the good ol' wisdoms removed. Now i am on 500mg Amoxicillin 4 times a day for a week and 500mg Hydrocodone as needed for pain. For the first 2 days I managed to force the pills down, but now they catch at the back of my throat every time! I find myself prying open Amoxicillin capsules (yuck!) and giving the pain meds a cold shoulder. Through my aching jaw, I say that I CAN NO LONGER SWALLOW PILLS. I tried Peter's method, but without success; as far as i know, i have a "normal" swallow. Ugh.

Anonymous said...

man, so many people just like me. Foolishly, I thought I was alone in my weakness -- not being able to easily swallow food.

I also don't sleep very well either.

Going to give Peters technique a go. Early indications are that this could be a workable solution.


Hopefully I can start moving on to bigger pills soon. And hey, maybe my sleep will improve too.

Anonymous said...

Great story! I needed some reassurance I wasn't the only one with this incredibly frustrating problem. I turn to the internet and I all see is "How to get your *CHILD* to swallow pills". I think we can all agree, that is a bit degrading. It depresses me bad. I am 18, I swallowed my first pill this past summer, it was a Claritin, incredibly small, but still took a hefty amount of time. It's no exaggeration when I say I can't swallow pills to save my life. I had Lymes two years ago, the doctor gave me those dreaded capsules and I laughed in nervousness while pretty much trembling with fear. He told me to at least try to down them, I shot that offer down immediately. He then recommended I break them open and eat them in apple-sauce. Doxycycline doesn't have the most appealing name, so I prepared myself for the ghastly taste I was about to endure for the next two 2-3 months. I was god awful. I tried to mix it with everything, that taste just wouldn't leave. It left a taste of plastic chemicals in my mouth for an hour after I took them, 2 a day, for two months. Everytime I went to open the capsule, I looked at it and just thought "There is no way he was serious when he said to swallow these...These are just carrying cases for the powder...Why would these be so huge?" I found my alternatives, dissolvable, liquid(<3), crushing. But it's still pathetic to me.
I at least know where my fear comes from. I tried swallowing a tissue on stage at a magic show in some hotel at the age of 5. Just old enough to remember throwing up on stage and crying as bits of tissue flapped in my throat, swaying with my whimpers.
I am in college now with a hand full of advil and mucinex, trying to shake a fever and nasal drip down my esophagus mixed in with a fiery sore throat. Good luck to you, thank you for the support

Anonymous said...

Hey mate I totally agree with you... I see others doing it so well and I thought that i was the only one who couldn't swallow pilss at my age.. well now i've got anit-biotics in capsules to take and it's so bitter i gagged...

Gag if I try said...

Seven years and this blog post from 2004 is still going strong.

I've just come back from a humiliating trip to the hospital and searched google for 'cannot swallow pills'. What a relief.

I actually always knew I wasn't alone, because my last doctor said he had many patients who couldn't swallow pills, and he had no problem prescribing medicine for me in liquid or chewable form.

I had to go for a thyroid uptake test today and take that radioactive pill... well, actually, I couldn't take it. Now I've had this test done TWICE before in the state I used to live in, and both times I got either liquid or an IV. They looked at me like I was crazy.

I honestly tried my best, but at the end was crying and humilated. I just could not get that pill down. I called my doctor's office and the woman on the phone acted like I was a child.

I was trying Peter's method but I must be doing something wrong, because when I smile the water dribbles out. I'm going to keep working on it. I also like the method given by Anonymous at 2:25 PM, August 30, 2007

I really hate the way I was treated by my doctor's office. I am 47 years old and it' s not like I don't have YEARS of trying to swallow pills behind me. I knew I was going to have to take a test today, so I was practicing all week before hand with baby aspirin. It was about 50/50 if I could even get them down, and to me that was a huge success. The pill at the hospital today wasn't huge, just about the size of a tylenol, but after 20 oz of water and countless tries, I just couldn't get it down.

When you google "can't swallow pills" there are a lot of people with the same problem. I think it's unconscionable that medical personnel treat us like children.

Anonymous said...

lol, i like how you explain the long production.

i have been practicing and now downgraded to a medium production run.

i know its all in the mind, just gotta take a few big deep breaths and relax your body and drink as normal. sounds easy, but it ain't.

Anonymous said...

I gotta say,


Works brilliantly for someone who has had issues most of my life swallowing pills.

This works 100% and I can swallow pills so easily now!!!


Ivy said...

This is my story and technique

I used to be able to swallow pills with no problem but after a chocking experience I developed a phobia and became unable to swallow any pill even if they were really small. I tried to avoid any medicine or try to find it in a chewable / liquid format (using children's versions mostly). One day I had to take a pill that wasn't available in such format. I was dreading it but my pharmacist gave me the following technique:

He told me to get a cold Coca Cola get 2 quick sips then instantly put the medicine in my mouth and swallow it with water.

As it turns out if you drink cold Coca Cola quickly it numbs your throat so you don't feel the pill at all.

So I put a glass of water in front of me, hold my pill in my left hand, quickly take 2 sips from Cold Coca Cola, instantly put the pill in my mouth and drink water and swallow. It works for me.

I don't know if other cold liquids would numb your throat or not.

Anonymous said...

I had these problems as a child & always chose the chewable or liquid alternatives because I was simply afraid of swallowing a pill whole. A few years back by chance I discovered a technique that was so simple that I couldn't believe I hadn't discovered it earlier.

1. Sip some water. This will lubricate the mouth

2. Put the pill in your mouth. You probably won't be able to taste it because of the water inside already.

3. Clench your LEFT fist by putting your LEFT thumb in the centre of your palm & wrapping the rest of your fingers around it forming a fist. Doing this has been proven to desensitise the gag reflex.

4. Get your bottle or glass of water & keep drinking large sips & swallowing quickly until it has gone down.

That's it, once you put that into practice you can swallow even the largest horse pills. Don't believe me? TRY IT!!!

AnnieG said...

I'm nearly 60, and have nurtured this secret all my life - I can't swallow whole pills. So what a relief it was to find this site, and see that I am not alone! Thanks go to Koranteng, for starting the blog, and to all the other posts for being so brave about their predicament - after all swallowing is supposed to be such a fundamental thing, and so many health professionals don't seem to understand. Finally HUGE thanks go to Peter, who ought to be canonised, for suggesting a remedy which made me realise that I AM swallowing incorrectly, and I'm practising his method and building up confidence. Also thanks to everyone for the apple sauce idea, which was new to me. I've found another site with the same instructions which you can print out: www.newhopesoleburydental.com/pdf/tounge_thrust_swallowing.pdf (yes, tounge is correct for this address).
Do the rest of you have problems at the dentist - lying flat on my back, I can't swallow the pool of water that collects at the back of my mouth while the dentist is working!
Good luck to everybody.

Sara said...

I have had issues swallowing pills my whole life as well as food on and off over the years. I started college last year, and I had two choking incidents my first week there; and for nearly the whole year I could only eat pastries because after three bites of hot or cold foods I'd start to gag. I was even afraid occasionally of bringing coffee to drink during my classes because I thought I might gag on it in front of everyone.

Now I need to swallow a huge capsule for this radioactive iodine uptake test to diagnose if I have hyperthyroidism. What pains me is that the test, I know for a fact, is available in liquid form, yet the office refuses to obtain it.

The test costs $452, with insurance, and I'm not paying good money for a bunch of nurses to scold me for not being able to swallow it. We all of have our phobias and mine happens to be pills. It's not like I'm being purposefully difficult for the fun of it. And no one else on this page is either.

Many people have trouble getting pills down. It's not like I haven't tried. I know that 40% of Americans have difficulty with pills. That's nearly half the country. We pay good money for our medications, the least pharmaceutical companies or doctors can do is cater to those of us who have trouble swallowing pills by producing medications in liquid or chewable form. If you think about it, swallowing pills is unnatural. We have teeth for a reason.

I'm willing to try the clenching my left fist method, the taking sips of coke first method , and the famous Peter's method, because I would love to swallow pills like everyone else. However, the pharmaceutical industry should try to cater to the sizable minority who can't.

Anonymous said...

I a 28 year old female and have never been able to swallow pills either. But I'll tell ya what I do. I chew some food like cheese or bread something that isn't too thin, like cereal, and I shove the pill insidethe food and then I swallow. It works everytime. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

I've been having problems taking my 500 mg Amoxicillin pills as well. When I absolutely cannot swallow them & have no choice but to open them up, it is very easy to mask the bitter taste with some very sweet tapioca (I had some made from having strep) or pudding. Mix it on the spoon & it'll go right down.

The thing that's been really hard with these pills is that they float in my mouth. So depending on how my head is tilted, the pill is either forcing itself into the back of my throat or staying as far away from it as possible. Bleh.

I used to have a really rough time as a kid swallowing even small pills, but I've had so many headaches growing up, I eventually just forced myself to learn. The big ones often still give me trouble. Hope this helps!

Anonymous said...

I'm not chicken because I am 14 and I am taking horse pills as I write this for a bad cough.

Cathy Fusco said...

I completely and whole heartedly understand. Getting doctors to understand this is completely another story! Thank God I have at least 3 doctors who don't look at me, as though I have 4 heads. That is good enough for me. I get all my pills re-constituted into liquids by APEX Pharmacy. When you think about MOST pills DO come in liquids, however, doctors are so used to prescribing pills off the top of their head, that they don't even consider the liquid form! How RUDE. Some doctors make me want to smack them around. Not everyone in their mother'in-law can swallow pills have a little heart?! I go through this crap every time when visiting new doctors and it aggravates me that they don't understand. BTW I am 44....so you are not alone...believe me. Cheers to all of us who are in the same boat. Yes...We should form a support group! :) Or we can make this one a "group!" All I can say is put your foot down, regardless of the look they give you or the rudeness they display.

S.Emerald said...

I'm in my late teens and I've never been able to swallow pills. I have a phobia of anything doctor related. I have panic attacks if I need to get a shot. I recently hot to get a shot for hepatitis prevention and I couldn't do it. My nurse almost tried to give me a guilt trip, but I didn't care. I started crying and she had to hold me down. My nurse even told me that she would have to call the whole staff. It took about 30-40 mins until I was able to take the shot.

A similar thing happened when I when I went to Europe and I was convinced that I had a blood clot. I had to get my blood drawn and I had a panic attack. I had to take my vistaril and I told the doctor that I couldn't swallow pills and he said that was normal. He didn't even give me a hard time with it! Why can't all doctors be like understanding like that?

I always dread when I get sick and the doctor finds out that I can't swallow pills. I hate the looks I get and the guilt trips I'm given. Like how at my age I should know how to swallow pills and the my fears are silly. Over the years my main doctor has come to understand my fears, but I always hate when pills are brought up, because then she finds out that I still can't do it. It's embarrassing. Antibiotics taste like crap, I'm talking about the liquid version.

The only medication I take is vistoril, which is for anxiety. When I went to Europe I would just break open the capsule and pour it into my mouth. It surprisingly doesn't taste bitter and bad. Now, I just blend it with tea or juice.

I can't swallow anything unless I chew it first. I was always taught to chew my food, so maybe this is where it started? My doctor said that I should try swallowing a M&M, but that's way to BIG!!! I can't even swallow small things, like Claritin. I used to take that and I could only "swallow" it if it was practically foam on my tongue or dissolved in a drink. My family have stopped trying to get me to learn how.

To boost my immune system, I sometimes go herbal and take Cat's Claw. I can only take it with honey. Ginseng also helps. I'm glad to have found others like me that share the same phobia. None of my friends have this and I'm too ashamed to bring it up with them... Experience Project might have a group for this, if not someone should defiantly create one:)

Senyo said...

Swallowing pills eh? It's not very pleasant I agree but it might amaze you think that some medicine is quite enjoyable, may even want you to take them when not sick...Right about the vitamins thingy though..

Angie said...

I feel you... am 23 and should "know better"... but those pills can't go down. My throat just closes up--I know it's all in my head, a fear factor--and I can barely swallow the water around the pill while the tongue stubbornly holds the pill in place against the roof of my mouth. I have a bad habit of grinding pills-- coated capsules you can just open and shake up in a small amount of water to drink, but I am afraid of the damage it may do to my stomach :( Nevertheless your stories of pacing and head tilting and all the 7-10 minute ordeals really hit home...and you've inspired me to try harder tomorrow. :)

Terry E :) said...

THANKS PETER!! I am 46 and using Peter's method of swallowing has cured my inability to swallow pills! I have struggled with this my whole life and never knew all I had to do was learn how to swallow properly. WOW! I have swallowed a rather large vitamin the last 2 mornings with no difficulty using Peter's method. THanks again Peter!