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Doctors' Answers to "Frequently Asked Questions" - Swallowing Pills

These comments are made for the purpose of discussion and should NOT be used as recommendations for or against therapies or other treatments. An individual patient is always advised to consult their own physician.

Difficulty Swallowing Pills [posted 1/12/99]
Question: Could you offer any insight as to whether HIV medications (pills, capsules) can be crushed or dissolved prior to swallowing, for those individuals who have significant difficulty swallowing pills/capsules? Thanks for any insight, as this would assist medication compliance tremendously in some patients.

Answer: Depends a lot on the specific medication. Some can be crushed, some not.

Difficulty swallowing caplets
Question: I purchased Tylenol Cold Severe Congestion (non drowsy) caplets today, and was wondering if it is okay to break the caplets into smaller pieces, as I have difficulty swallowing them whole. Does this degrade the efficacy of the medication? By the way, I have always had difficulty swallowing tablets/capsules whole for some reason (It may be entirely psychological), but occasionally I have had some luck embedding caplets into a piece of food (such as bread) and swallowing that. Is this alright, or does it hinder the ability of the medication to get absorbed properly? Can you give any advice as how to overcome my problem of whole-pill swallowing?

Answer: Breaking this pill in half is no problem, but there are pills (particularly time release prescription pills) that it would matter. Taking these pills with bread is also no problem. It sounds like a psychological barrier since you have no trouble swallowing food. Try putting the pill on the back part of the tongue as you start to swallow.

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