Did You Know | Life Hacks | Health

3 Simple Tricks That Make Swallowing Pills So Much Easier

Victor - Flickr

As a child I used to get sick all the time, which meant I was constantly taking medicine, or at least I was trying to.

My poor mother had to resort to hiding my pills in apple sauce, pinching my nose while I took them, or buying the more expensive chewable variety (which I also hated).

Even as an adult, I still can't stand taking my pills every morning.

tr0tt3r - Flickr

I'm not alone either. As many as 40% of people say they have trouble swallowing pills, and there's a good reason for all the trouble.

Our brains are actually hardwired not to swallow something until we chew it, especially when it's hard like a pill.

Overcoming that natural urge to spit the pill out takes practice and creativity. But we have a few helpful tips.

1. Use Saliva To Your Advantage

Pixnio

Some companies market sprays that are meant to help pills slide down your throat. Don't buy those.

Your body has its own lubricant for pills already - your saliva.

You can encourage your mouth to make more saliva by drinking water before you take your pills. Hydrating your throat also loosens up the muscles you use to swallow.

Pixnio

Unless your pill bottle says otherwise, you should actually be drinking before, during, and after taking your pills, to help them go down smoothly.

Try it, and you'll see how much easier it is to swallow pills when your mouth isn't dry.

2. The Bottle Technique

faungg - Flickr

A group of German experts set out to find the best way to swallow pills, since it seems to cause trouble for so many people.

One of the best techniques they discovered involves recycling a plastic water or soda bottle.

First, fill the bottle with water. Then put the pill on your tongue and take a sip from the bottle.

Pixabay

Wrap your lips around the bottle opening and sip with one motion. The act of drinking should override your urge not to swallow the pill.

Even when they tested this technique with extra large pills, subjects said it worked well 64% of the time.

3. The Lean Forward

Marco Verch - Flickr

The same team of experts who studied the bottle technique also recommended this unconventional position.

After putting the pill on your tongue and sipping water, leaning your chin down makes it easier to swallow them.

It seems odd to lean forward while trying to take pills, but the position actually makes swallowing easier on your muscles.

Annals of Family Medicine

82% of people who said they had trouble swallowing pills noticed it was easier with their head leaned forward.

While we're talking about your daily dose, you should know about some common foods that react badly with medication.

Which foods react badly with medication?

Good Free Photos

Keeping track of the mouse print covering every inch of your pill bottles can be tough, but the directions about taking your pills with food are crucial.

Those pills aren't magical, they work because of the ingredients inside them. Pair a certain pill with the wrong type of food, and you can cause a dangerous reaction.

Here are a few to look out for:

Grapefruit Juice

PXhere

If you're taking statins to help control your cholesterol, you should take this citrus juice off your grocery list.

It can interfere with your body's ability to absorb the pills. The juice can also move abnormally high or low doses of other drugs into your bloodstream.

But you don't need to worry about orange juice or other citrus drinks. Grapefruit just contains more compounds called furanocoumarins, which cause all the problems.

Black Licorice

Susanne Nilsson - Flickr

An ingredient in this sweet called glycyrrhiza can lower your body's supply of potassium, while making it retain sodium.

When your potassium level is low, medications for heart failure, blood pressure, and blood clotting can all have dangerous reactions.

Luckily, the problem is easy to avoid: artificial licorice doesn't have this ingredient, only the natural candy does.

Tyramine-rich Food

Tyramine
BobPetUK

You may not recognize this compound, but you've definitely had it before.

It's in chocolate, aged cheese, smoked meats, lunch meats (including hot dogs), pickled foods, and draft beer.

Too much tyramine in your system can cause a reaction to MAOI antidepressants and Parkinson's medication.

It can also trigger a migraine, so consider yourself warned.

Leafy Green Vegetables

Stacy Spensley - Flickr

Blood-thinning medicines like warfarin work by controlling clotting caused by vitamin K.

When you get an large dose of the vitamin from vegetables like kale and spinach, it can interfere with your medication.

Luckily, the risk isn't very high unless you gorge on a large serving of greens all at one.

Salt Substitutes

Max Pixel

ACE inhibitors and heart failure medications react badly to these diet products, because they're made from potassium.

Enjoying too much of these substitutes at once can increase your risk of heart failure.

Your risk is even higher if you have complicating factors like weak kidneys.

Calcium-rich Foods

זלדה1 - Wikimedia

There's a good reason to cut back on milk, cheese, and yogurt while taking antibiotics.

The drugs can bond with the calcium in your stomach, forming a solid substance that your body can't absorb.

Trust us when we say you don't want that to happen.

These are the 15 vitamins all women over 50 need.

And these are the 7 foods that fight wrinkles to make you look younger.

[H/T: LA Times, Harvard Health Publishing]

I write about all sorts of things for Shared, especially weird facts, celebrity news, and viral stories. CONTACT: zachary@shared.com