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17 February 2010

Big scary pills. [More:]I have a fear of choking and I have just been prescribed really big capsules to take. Help! I've been googling and apparently the trick is actually (and counterintuitively) to tilt your head forward. I know this is all in my head but I'm still nervous, and then I get worried that the nervousness will actually cause me to swallow like a spaz and choke for real! Please reassure me.
Two words: razorblade. straw.
posted by jonmc 17 February | 20:14
Heh... jon forgot to mention the other two words: mirror. Disco.

But actually, you can crumble or break up any medicine I've ever heard of, if the pills/capsules are too big to swallow.
posted by BoringPostcards 17 February | 20:17
It's a gel capsule, BoPo... Can't break or crumble it.
posted by amro 17 February | 20:21
Have you taken any yet? There aren't very many places for a pill to go once it's far enough behind your tongue, hold your breath and give it a shot. Let your body naturally do what it does. Easier said than done I know.
posted by Firas 17 February | 20:43
I just cold shove them to the back of my mouth and swallow. Glass of water on hand and the knowledge that No I will Not Choke and Keep Swallowing. If you push them back far enough you don't get the gagging upchuck.
posted by The Whelk 17 February | 20:54
But yes, shove them to the back of your mouth and let nature take it's course, the big thing is remembering You Will Not Choke cause the pills, no matter HOW BIG they are, are not big enough to stop you swallowing them if you're of sound mind and body. Keep a glass of water on hand. The first few times may be rough but you will very quickly get used to it.
posted by The Whelk 17 February | 20:56
Can you chug water? Drink like, half a glass first and then pop the pill in your mouth and carry on drinking. Your throat is relaxed and primed for the water/pill. That's how I do it, anyway. I have the gag reflex from hell.
posted by gaspode 17 February | 21:04
I can swallow about 14 pills at one time, but regretfully I have no idea how I could transfer any of that knowledge via text.
posted by Ardiril 17 February | 21:09
Ah. I have some experience with this. When my nephew was 14 he underwent some serious surgeries and he had a very hard time taking pills. He actually had sort of a phobia about it. One night I bought a bag of peanut M & M's and we practiced. I talked to him about how he had to will himself to let his throat relax. He practiced with the M & M's and he mastered it.

I think you're lucky that the pills are gel capsules rather than tablets which can feel bruising going down. Maybe you could try putting a drop of vegetable oil on it but that doesn't sound very appealing, does it.

The trick is probably to just place it near the back of your tongue and immediately drink a glass of water, while consciously relaxing your throat. I think gaspode's idea of slipping it in while chugging water is an excellent one. Good luck and let us know how it goes. You can do this.
posted by Kangaroo 17 February | 21:17
put it in your mouth with a spoonful of something soft like yogurt, pudding or oatmeal. swallow. chase with water.
posted by desjardins 17 February | 21:22
Take it with seltzer or soda. The fizziness opens your esophagus and automatically makes you swallow the pill. It's an old nursing home trick that is used for bedridden patients.
posted by Susurration 17 February | 21:33
Don't use cold water. Your throat won't be relaxed.
posted by serena 17 February | 22:28
Hmm, I am going to try Susurration's trick!

I don't actually have to start taking these pills until 2/28. Further evidence of my anxiety about it that I am stressing about it 11 days in advance (I picked up the prescription tonight).
posted by amro 17 February | 22:35
Then you have time to practice! Maybe you could try some of these tricks with vitamins or whatever and see which one works best.
posted by unsurprising 18 February | 01:34
Then you have time to practice! Maybe you could try some of these tricks with vitamins or whatever and see which one works best.
posted by unsurprising 18 February | 01:39
Damn. Sorry about the double.
posted by unsurprising 18 February | 01:40
I second Susurration's advice. The effect of the carbonation in seltzer/sparkling mineral water/etc is really remarkable. That's why it's used in alcoholic drinks that would otherwise be too disgusting to swallow.
posted by treepour 18 February | 01:57
If they aren't time release let them dissolve in a glass of water.
posted by buzzman 18 February | 06:23
Keep in mind that if you break up the pill, especially if the capsule has liquid or powder inside, but either way, it will all get into your bloodstream faster and leave faster. Depending on the medication, you have time to talk to your doctor to see if splitting the pills would mess up a time release feature, or even if that might be dangerous. Probably not, but still.
posted by rainbaby 18 February | 08:50
I, like Ardiril, can swallow many pills in one go. But I know how I do it, because a nurse once told me I do it wrong. She told me to tilt my head forward, and I gagged. So I do it my way, which is:

Put the pill under your tongue, in the front of your mouth, right behind your teeth. Then tilt your head back while drinking water, as if you have the hiccups and are trying to cure them. It's kind of like chugging, but just for a second.

I used to gag whenever I had to take pills, especially antibiotics. But if you put them under your tongue, you don't taste the pill or really even sense that something weird is in there. So there's less chance of gagging on the bad taste. And though the pill may seem big in your hand, it's smaller in your mouth. Regardless, the water just washes it down your throat.

It works every time for me, but I believe in a little bit of magic when it comes to these things. I mean, to cure really stubborn hiccups I put my fingers in my ears while drinking a glass of water upside down. So YMMV.
posted by brina 18 February | 09:46
Careful about breaking up pills. Some pills are not meant to dissolve in the stomach or are meant to dissolve at a particular rate in the stomach. Cutting open capsules or breaking up pills changes this.

I use the same protocol that brina follows. I used to have a horrible phobia about swallowing pills that tied into aspirin getting stuck on my tongue as a child, which is bitter as all get out. As an adult, I just followed a procedure like brina. I also use a bit of reasoning: typical pills are way smaller than the typical chunk of bread or meat that most adults swallow without thinking, therefore the actual chance of them getting caught is very small.
posted by plinth 18 February | 11:01
Put one hand on the top of the head and grip firmly. Place the other hand, which is holding the capsule, under the jaw. Tile the head back. Forcibly open the jaw using the fingers of both hands, drop the pill in, rub the throat until swallowed, reward with a treat.

Works on cats, anyway.
posted by essexjan 18 February | 12:33
essexjan, or I could try wrapping it up in a piece of cheese and tricking myself into swallowing it.
posted by amro 18 February | 12:58
Strong tasting fizzy soda of your choice helps me, too (grape soda's great, or Dr. Pepper or Coke if you like those). With maybe a cookie chaser, or something else yummy to bite after. Plinth's reasoning's good, too. Any pill's much smaller than most bites of food. A few slow, calming breaths before help keep the throat relaxed, too. Just keep telling yourself, No sweat, no sweat.

Gel capsules or other slippery coated pills sometimes slide around in your mouth with or without liquid; the key is not to panic -- just manuever the pill in your mouth with the liquid and swallow. It'll go down.

Remember... no sweat.
posted by Pips 18 February | 19:59
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