If you have trouble swallowing pills, you’re not alone—surveys suggest that up to 40% of people experience difficulty during the pill-swallowing process. However, not addressing the problem can prevent you from adhering to your medication routine.

Identifying the reasons why you might have trouble swallowing pills can make the process easier for you in the future.

Reasons Why Pill Swallowing Might Be Hard for You

There are many reasons why you might have difficulty swallowing pills, tablets, or capsules.

General Dislike for Pills

Generally disliking the pill-swallowing process can create a psychological barrier that prevents you from taking your medication correctly.

Type of Pill

What kind of medication you take can influence how easy—or difficult—it is to swallow. A few characteristics that directly influence the process include the following.

  • Size: Extra-large pills are harder to swallow than smaller ones. However, small pills can stick to the throat if taken without water.
  • Shape: Certain pill shapes can make it more challenging to swallow your medication than others. For instance, you might prefer flat or oval pills over round pills.
  • Texture: While capsules generally have the same texture, tablets may lack smooth coating and can become sticky inside the throat.
  • Taste: If you are sensitive to specific tastes, pills that leave an aftertaste can be more challenging to swallow. 


Some people who have general swallowing difficulties may be diagnosed with a medical condition called dysphagia. Suffering from dysphagia might make it more likely for you to cough or experience discomfort when swallowing a pill.

While a cure isn’t always possible, dysphagia can be easy to manage through therapy and lifestyle changes.

Underlying Conditions or Causes

If you don’t suffer from dysphagia or fear of swallowing pills yet continue to have problems, the source may originate from somewhere else. For instance, you might be suffering from irritation or a mild infection that can make it difficult for a pill to travel down the esophagus.

Perhaps you also suffer from another medical condition that can dry the throat, cause you to over-salivate, or narrow the airways.

pills in handSigns You Might Have Difficulty Swallowing Pills

If you have trouble swallowing pills, you may experience the following symptoms, even temporarily.

  • General fear of swallowing pills
  • The sensation of a pill becoming stuck in your throat
  • Coughing while swallowing
  • The inability to keep swallowed pills down your throat
  • Overproducing saliva

Tips for Swallowing Pills

While having difficulty swallowing pills can become disruptive to your medication routine, there are many ways to make the process easier.

Lean-Forward Method

If you take capsules, the lean-forward method can help them travel seamlessly down the throat. Start by placing the capsule on your tongue and taking a swig of water. Then, lean forward and swallow with your head in a bent position.

Studies show that this particular method can increase success rates for swallowing pills by up to 89%.

Adding Water

Some people don’t take enough water when swallowing pills, which can cause tablets and capsules to become lodged in the throat or stuck to your mouth. Always take a generous swig of water when swallowing pills to help wash them down effortlessly.

Trying Alternative Medication

Some medication is available in various forms. If you have trouble swallowing capsules or tablets, you can request an alternative form of medication such as a liquid or dissolvable powder.

Always consult with your doctor before altering the state of your medication. For instance, while some medications are dissolvable in water, others may become less effective.

Crushing your medication can also impact its efficacy. As a rule of thumb, you shouldn’t dissolve or crush medications with the following labels.

  • Controlled delivery or release
  • Delayed or extended release
  • Enteric-coated
  • Long-acting
  • Slow-release
  • Sublingual

Using a Pill-Swallowing Gel

One of the most effective methods of improving the pill-swallowing process is to use a gel. Gloup is a 100% natural pill-swallowing gel that doesn’t impact the efficacy of your medication. Simply coat your pill before swallowing to allow it to easily slide down the throat.

The Bottom Line

Having trouble swallowing pills isn’t out of the ordinary. However, it can negatively impact your medication routine. By uncovering the reasons why you might have trouble swallowing pills, you can alleviate these problems over time.

For a medication swallowing gel that prevents lodging and discomfort, try Gloup

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