Tips For Swallowing Pills

by Claudius J West

male portrait composed of pills and capsules swallowing a red pillWhen I was a kid, we were made to take a daily vitamin. It wasn’t a gummi bear sprinkled with sour patch dust, or anything else remotely chewable, but a smallish red dot half the size of an M&M that was meant to be swallowed.

I didn’t know how to swallow a pill, even a puny dot of a pill. My method of consuming it was to  crush it between my molars and bear the cringe-inducing bitterness as best I could.

The problem, for me, with swallowing pills whole was that the action of my tongue had a way of pushing the contents of what I wanted to swallow up against my palate on the way to moving it to the back of my throat. A solid lump, like a pill or vitamin, always got stuck, jammed up against the roof of my mouth.

At some point, my sisters and I stopped having to take vitamins, but I found when I was older, I wanted them for my health. If I was going to take them, then I would have to learn to swallow them properly.

The method I used for years wasn’t exactly proper. What I would do was push the vitamin as far as I could to the back of my tongue, just so it rested on the brink of the tipping point that led to the dark slide down the esophagus. Once carefully balanced in place and holding my breath, I made a swallowing motion.

I have since learned that this is called “swallowing dry,” that is, the part that didn’t involve water was called swallowing dry.

What I didn’t like was sticking my finger in my mouth up to the last knuckle and looking like a person who was trying to gag himself, particularly when I mistakenly gagged myself.

As my number of vitamins and supplements increased, I figured I needed to find a better method.

An epiphany came when I saw author Tim Ferriss swallow 25 large pills all at once. Click on the link to see what I mean.

If he could do that, and he could, then I could improve my own technique.

And, I did.

I got an idea from watching Anthony Hopkins swallow a couple of pills in the movie Meet Joe Black: he put the pills in his mouth, raised his glass for a sip of water, then threw his head back.

You’ve seen it in movies and on TV a hundred times.

It works. The backward momentum gets the pills moving in the right direction; the tilt of the head helps, too.

Soon, I could handle my eight multivitamins all in one go.

Here’s something else to keep in mind: it helps to take a drink before swallowing pills, in order to lubricate your swallow-pipe. It can make an important difference.

How about you? When did you learn to swallow pills? Was it easy for you?

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