Difficulty in swallowing pills isn’t only a common problem amongst children, but adults as well. Stephen Cassivi, a thoracic surgeon has said, “People who have underlying swallowing difficulties, called dysphagia, may have trouble swallowing pills, but that is generally the result of other problems, such as stroke or surgery or gastroesophageal reflux.” However, for most people, it’s a mental barrier.
In adults, Cassivi goes on to say that the fear stems from the potential of gagging. They could have had an instance in which the pill slid too far back on the tongue without falling into the throat and each time they have to swallow a pill now, they relive the moment and the muscles of the throat tighten. And while the key for adults would be to ironically, concentrate on relaxing your throat muscles, here are some tips you can use for children:
1. Mini M&M’s
Try using candy – you can go with mini M&M’s as a substitute for pills. Turn it into a game – tell your child to swallow one with a sip of water. The condition is that he or she must do it within the time frame in which the colour doesn’t transfer onto the tongue. This is because some medication do not have a protective coating around them (or even if they do, it could dissolve in the mouth after awhile) – this just makes the pill even more unpleasant to swallow. Try getting them to swallow two after dinnertime – turning it into a habit.
2. Hold your nose
Ask your child to put the pill in his or her mouth, before pinching their nose. Not only does it restrict your child’s sense of smell, which in turn, affects taste (helpful when it comes to terrible tasting pills) – but it purportedly affects and helps with your throat muscles.
3. Stick it into Jell-O
This can also be turned into a game. Make a huge bowl of Jell-O and challenge your little one to a game of who can swallow the largest bite. Stick into his or her largest spoonful of Jell-O.
4. Use flavoured drinks
Sometimes, water may not be enough to mask the unpleasant taste or even residual taste a pill leaves behind on the tongue. Experiment with drinks your child likes – such as Milo or orange juice to see if that can work.
5. Lean forward
It may seem counter-intuitive, but a study in the Annals of Family Medicine actually suggested that leaning forward – tilting your chin to your chest before swallowing – will make the pill go down easier.