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Pill Stuck in Throat: Everything You Need to Know

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Whenever a child gets sick, he or she is often prescribed medication in the form of syrup.  As the child gets older, this changes.  He or she is now given a pill to take during medication hours.  There are, however, some people who dislike taking pills.  Compared to syrup, pills are solid and often take more effort to successfully swallow.  There are even cases where people find a pill stuck in throat, causing an uncomfortable choking feeling.

This article provides basic information on pills, what causes a pill stuck in throat, and what to do in case this happens.

Pills and their Importance

Pills are those small, round forms of medication that are meant to be taken orally.  Although the most common purpose of pills is for the treatment of different conditions, there are also pills that help people lose weight, lighten their skin tone, and even help them regularize their periods.

Most adults prefer taking pills over the syrup form of their medications.  First of all, adults are very busy people, and the idea of having to bring along a bottle of syrup with them outside of their homes is not at all appealing.  Plus, you’d need a spoon or a small measuring cup to be able to drink the right dosage of syrup.

Pills are smaller and easier to bring.  They do not take up much space and they can easily be taken just by swallowing them along with water.  However, there are instances wherein there is a pill stuck in throat.  This can be due to a number of reasons.

Pill Stuck in Throat - Everything You Need to Know

What Causes Pills to Get Stuck in Your Throat?

Getting a pill stuck in throat is not at all a pleasant experience.  Although this is a fairly common situation, it helps to know what causes this.

a.   Size of the pill

The most common reason why there are people who take pills only to have it stuck in their throat for a little while is because the pill might be too large.  Certain pills are only available in large sizes.  Here are the most common pills that commonly get stuck in one’s throat:

  • Medications for osteoporosis
  • Anti-inflammatory pills
  • Potassium pills
  • Vitamin C
  • Aspirin
  • Iron
  • Certain antibiotics

b.   Lack in lubrication of the throat 

Another reason why pills get stuck in the throat is because the throat is too dry.  The pill cannot slide down easily the throat even when you have already tried swallowing because its pathway is too dry.  This is probably because there was not enough water swallowed prior to swallowing the pill. 

c.   Blockage in the throat or esophagus

There might be growths or foreign objects blocking the path where the pill is supposed to go through.  This is often detected by a doctor upon performing specific tests such as chest x-rays or ultrasounds. 

d.   Dysphagia 

If you find yourself having difficulty swallowing pills on a regular basis, or if you are regularly having difficulty swallowing anything, this might be due to a condition called dysphagia.  This condition is due to a problem in the throat or the esophagus and is commonly occurring in adults, babies, and people who have problems in their nervous system. 

Dysphagia happens because the nerves and muscles in the throat and esophagus that help move food through the throat are not working properly.  This could be due to medical problems related to the nervous system or medical conditions such as stroke.

 What to Do Should You Find a Pill Stuck in Throat

Getting a pill stuck in your throat could be life-threatening if it does not become dislodged quickly.  Prolonged contact of pills can be harmful to the esophageal lining, and severe cases might result in inflammation which, in turn, can lead to perforation, esophageal ulcers, and the narrowing of the esophagus.  Here are some measures you can do to prevent pills from getting stuck in your throat again, and some measures you can do if a pill does get stuck in your throat.

a.   Make it a habit to drink warm water and other liquids 

Drinking liquids is probably the most obvious way to prevent pills from getting stuck in the throat.  Make sure to drink liquids first before swallowing a pill to allow your throat the right amount of lubrication.  Drinking water and thick liquids such as fruit shakes can help.

Should a pill still get stuck in your throat, it is preferable to drink warm water since it helps in dissolving the pill faster.  The recommended amount of water to drink before swallowing a pill is at least eight ounces. 

b.   Swallow specific kinds of food 

There are certain foods that can help dislodge a pill that is stuck in your throat.  Here are a few suggestions: 

  • Applesauce
  • Slices of banana
  • Peanut butter
  • Yogurt
  • A piece of bread 

Eating a mouthful of these can help push down the pill and therefore removing it from its stuck position. 

c.   Create movements in your neck and throat

 While drinking water, try moving your neck around to help the pill dislodge more quickly.  Also, you may try swallowing some of your saliva or other liquids while contracting your throat muscles.

A good suggestion is to direct your chin towards your chest while swallowing.  While others are used to tipping their heads back while swallowing, tucking it down actually forces the pill towards your throat better.  Make sure the liquid in your mouth goes with the pill as you swallow.

d.   Remain in an upright position after swallowing a pill 

If you have just swallowed your pill, avoid lying down too soon.  Instead, remain in an upright position for a few minutes to allow the pill to safely travel down your throat.  You can either stay upright or sit down with your back straight.

e.   Avoid taking pills in a lying down position

This is a very obvious preventive measure.  Taking pills while lying down can cause pills to get stuck in your throat.  This is because the esophagus is not in an upright position to properly accommodate the descent of the pill. 

f.    Divide large pills into smaller pieces 

As mentioned above, there are pills that are inevitably large.  For swallowing them to become easier, split a pill into two and swallow them separately.  You can even crush it to mix your food.  Make sure to ask your doctor if this is okay since there are pills that lose their effectiveness once they get crushed or split into two. 

g.   Opt for chewable pills or the syrup version instead 

There are certain pills that have chewable versions.  Ask your doctor if the pills he is prescribing have chewable counterparts.  Another option is to choose the syrup form of the pill instead.  There are certain medications that also come in the form of syrup.  You can always ask for these alternatives during your appointment with your doctor.

If you follow the steps mentioned above, you do not have to worry about finding another pill stuck in throat.  Make sure to apply these preventive measures and remedies to prevent you from experiencing the pain and discomfort associated with taking your pills.  If, however, you find that you cannot get the pill dislodged from your throat even after performing the remedies and preventive measures stated above, it’s time to go consult a doctor or have yourself admitted to the emergency room.  Remember that a pill getting stuck in your throat too frequently might be a sign of an underlying problem.



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