Scientists find best way to swallow pills

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If you are one of those people who are unable to swallow a tablet for fear of choking, gagging and being left with an unpleasant taste in your mouth, you have been offered a small ray of hope.

There are people who are unable to swallow pills due to a medical condition, but more often than not it is a mental barrier.

Scientists based in Germany have come up with a method of swallowing tablets without gagging.

‘Pop Bottle’ Method

• Place the tablet on your tongue and place your lips tightly around the bottle top
• Swallow the tablet in a fast motion, while sucking the water into your mouth
‘Lean Forward’ Method
• Place the tablet on your tongue, while sitting in an upright position and take a sip of the water
• As you commence swallowing, lean your head forward and bend it toward your chest

The study included the examination of 151 adults who were given 16 placebos of different shapes, totalling 283 between all of them. The tablets and capsules were all traditionally shaped.

The researchers discovered that for both types, using around 20ml of water or one tablespoonful was the most effective.

The participants were asked to rate the ease of swallowing after taking each pill.

The participants were then requested to swallow the capsules and tablets in particular positions, using the two methods they had devised.

It was found that the best method of taking chalky tablets was the ‘pop bottle’ method.

For capsules, the ‘lean forward’ method appeared to be the most effective.

Ratings from the volunteers indicated that swallowing by using the ‘pop bottle’ method was improved by 60%, and 88% of the ones who tested the ‘lean forward’, rated it as easier.

The study leader, Dr Walter Haefeli, from the University of Heidelberg, said both techniques proved to be extremely effective. He said the choice of technique is dependent on the shape of the medication.

He stated that with capsules, which have a lower density than water, it will float about in the mouth and this is where head position is important. In contrast, when swallowing tablets, which have a higher density than water, it is important to focus on flushing the medication into the pharynx. He said round tablets proved to be the worst performers.

The report issued by the researchers stated that their study has, for the first time, shown that the two targeted methods of taking capsules and tablets is effective and can easily be adopted by the general population.

Image Credit: Kiran Foster

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