After days of trying to cough your way through what you convinced yourself was "just a cold," you finally went to the doctor. But, those capsules the doc prescribed look mighty intimidating when you realize they have to get all the way down your throat. And, it's not just you: It turns out that about a third of us have trouble swallowing the darned things. Luckily, new research has tested out a few methods that could help out the gutturally challenged among us.
The study, published this week in the Annals of Family Medicine, aimed to find out if there were any tricks to make swallowing giant pills a little easier. To investigate, the researchers gave 151 participants a series of 16 pills of different shapes and sizes. The participants, over half of whom had reported difficulty swallowing pills, attempted to take each one in a random order with their eyes closed. Then, they rated how easy the pill was to swallow.
The researchers were particularly interested in how their subjects would fare using two techniques in particular. In the pop-bottle method, your lips are pursed tight around the opening of a bottle (say, a water bottle) so that the suction when you take a drink propels the pill down your throat. In the lean-forward method, you place the pill on your tongue, take a swig of water (but don't swallow yet), lean your head forward, and then swallow in this bent position. So, the participants retook the pills that had been rated as the most difficult to swallow previously using these methods. The results: Over 88% of them said the pop-bottle method was helpful for them, and a whopping 97% said the same for the lean-forward technique.