The caregiver can first demonstrate the technique:
- Initially, take and swallow a comfortable mouthful of only water.
- Take the smallest cake decoration and place it in the middle of the tongue.
- Where it is placed may need to be modified by its size, form and the degree of the person’s gag reflex.
- For those with a sensitive gag reflex, keep the chin to the chest and relax, then breathe before tipping head back when ready to swallow.
- Take a sip of water, and either keeping the head level or tipping it back, swallow the water and the “pill” together.
- Take another sip of water to keep the “pill” moving down the throat.
- Continue until anxiety/frustration at taking the small “pill” is diminished and continue to the next larger-sized “pill,” gradually increasing the “pill” size.
PillSwalling.com cautions against calling fake pills “candy” since the latter is usually chewed; not so with medicine. In addition to Pryor’s suggestions, the following may be helpful:
- Use cool, never hot, liquids since drinking the latter may dissolve the medication before it
reaches the stomach.
- Take the pill with a carbonated beverage, which can help transport it quickly and help with swallowing.
- Try a two-gulp method by placing the pill on the tongue, taking a sip of liquid and swallowing it, not the pill. Take a second sip immediately and swallow the pill together with it.
- Put the pill or capsule far back on the tongue and use a straw to quickly drink the liquid.
- Chew a cookie, cracker or small piece of bread after moistening your mouth. Just before you swallow, put the pill in your mouth, and swallow both together, taking care not to tilt the head back to avoid choking.
- Take pills while standing or sitting up to help them pass quickly down the throat and into the stomach and avoid lying down for half an hour after taking pills.
- Don’t rush, eliminate distractions, and take a deep breath before taking the pill.
Caregivers will want to use trial and error with various methods and techniques to see what works best and is most comfortable for the person with difficulties.