II. Approach: Difficulty Swallowing Pill, Tablet or Capsule

  1. Change head position
    1. Tip head forward
    2. Turn head to one side (left or right)
    3. Counter-intuitively, tipping the head back may exacerbate swallowing difficulties
  2. Take pills with food
    1. Place the pill in soft, mushy food that is meant to be partially chewed (e.g. bananas)
  3. Swallow with water in a different way
    1. Swallow the pill with water sucked through a straw or from a plastic water bottle
  4. Use a lubricant
    1. Spray lubricant (e.g. Pill Glide) in the mouth or spray onto pills (e.g. Spray'n Swallow)
  5. Consider crushing tablet or opening capsule
    1. Some medications may be modified (crushed, opened) and placed in food (e.g. apple sauce, chocolate syrup)
    2. Discuss with pharmacist regarding specific medications

III. Approach: Splitting, Cutting or Crushing Pills

  1. Precautions
    1. Use a pill cutter or pill crusher instead of other home items (e.g. knife)
  2. Pills that may be Split, Cut or Crushed in most cases
    1. Uncoated pills that are NOT extended release (e.g. CR, LA, SR)
    2. Tablets that are scored may be split
  3. Pills that should not typically be cut
    1. Irregularly shaped tablets
    2. Unscored Combination Medications
  4. Pills that should not be crushed
    1. Extended release medications (e.g. CR, LA, SR)

IV. References

  1. (2015) Presc lett 22(1): 6
  2. (2020) Presc lett 27(11): 64-5

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