General Question

talljasperman's avatar

What do you do if you have a pill stuck in your throat?

Asked by talljasperman (21858points) January 6th, 2015

Sometimes when I take pills they get stuck in my throat. Hot water doesn’t work. What works for you?

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30 Answers

ucme's avatar

I’d imagine you’d need to cough it up & then make like a bird…swallow.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Oh that is so annoying.
First, I try to moisten things up sufficiently before I swallow. That makes the biggest difference. It is far better to not get it stuck in the first place.
Second, Don’t panic. Know that the pill will eventually dissolve. Ride it out with sips of water and the TV. In 10 minutes it will be gone.

Pachy's avatar

I can remember my mother giving me a small piece or bread to swallow to push the pill down. Thinking back, I’m not sure how safe that was, but it seems to have worked when I was a kid. In fact, most of the home remedies she learned from her mother did.

Later, I learned to take pills with a gulp of water.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Piece of bread with peanut butter.

gondwanalon's avatar

Well drinking water doesn’t work well for me. Every time it happens to me it is due to me trying to swallow too many vitamin pills too fast. It winds up as sort of a logjam in my throat. I try to sip water to push the pills down but they usually all come up rather than down. Painful. I hope that I’m learned my lesson.

talljasperman's avatar

@LuckyGuy I tried your way , and it worked. Thanks.

Pachy's avatar

So @Hypocrisy_Central, what do you do if THAT gets stuck?! ;-)

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@Pachy So @Hypocrisy_Central, what do you do if THAT gets stuck?! ;-)
You have fun washing it all down with chocolate or 2% milk. ;-D

JLeslie's avatar

Happens to me a lot. Eating a little food and washing it down with water usually works, except the pills I have to take daily I can’t eat with or they are ineffective. For those pills I just drink a little more water, wait ten minutes, drink some more. I just wait for it to disintegrate and wash them down with more water. It’s annoying.

If it is a pill that can eat away at the tissue, like aspirin or ibuprofen, I definitely would eat something and plenty of water to get it down. I once didn’t get ibuprofen down correctly and then went to bed. I woke with multiple huge elvers in my esophagus. Painful and can be very dangerous. It was really bad. Took over 2 weeks to completely heal.

AshlynM's avatar

Try milk or applesauce. This is why I’ve stopped taking pills. I always try and get it in liquid form.

Brian1946's avatar

How about a salad shooter, to blast it down your esophagus with some high-velocity veggies?

Cruiser's avatar

My best way for slugging down meds is to fill my mouth with water…tilt my head back…open mouth and drop in the tabs and swallow. Works like a charm every time.

Here2_4's avatar

^^^ That is how I do it. If it happens often that you have such difficulties, they make contraptions to grind pills back down to powder. Then it can be stirred into food or beverage.

ibstubro's avatar

I’m with the eat some bread crowd. Followed by a little milk, if you have it.

If it’s a common problem, I’d try breaking them up into smaller pieces and taking them with something thicker than water, such as @AshlynM‘s milk or applesauce. Yogurt would be good. Cottage cheese. Take them with something thick and wet.

Grinding might release the medication into your system too quickly, and make whatever you mix it into unpalatable/nasty.

kritiper's avatar

Quickly drink a big glass of water or swallow, swallow, swallow!

Coloma's avatar

Yes, just drink water or whatever until it is washed down.
Was it a bitter pill to swallow? lol

Buttonstc's avatar

If this happens frequently, (as it does with me) get a pill splitter to cut them into smaller more manageable pieces.

This is basically a razor blade embedded in the top part of two hinged pieces with a triangular guide in the bottom part to facilitate cutting.

They’re available for a few bucks in any drugstore.

Just be aware that you shouldn’t do this with time-release or Enteric-coated meds as it defeats that feature. If in doubt ask the Pharmacist.

Another alternative is a pill crusher/grinder which makes tablets into powder which can be taken with applesauce or baby food. Quick and easy, goes down smoothly. Especially good for larger pills.

JLeslie's avatar

@Buttonstc My small pills are the ones that get stuck the most. However, cutting a pill would help the pill disintergrate faster if it gets stuck. I do cut large pills, because I am bad at swallowing pills. I know that makes no sense when you read it probably. The pills I am cutting are very large (to me).

gasman's avatar

A bite of banana is said to work well—similar to bread, I guess

Sometimes when a difficult-to-swallow item goes down, it can abrade a little of the lining (mucosa) of your throat, which will—for a day or so—give you a persistent “foreign body” sensation even though nothing is actually there.

Buttonstc's avatar


That makes perfect sense because I take Sudafed which are pretty small but they always get stuck, even if I halve them.


I hate that feeling and that’s the main reason I finally settled on getting a pill crusher.

Even tho it’s plastic, it does a great job of grinding them into a fine powder. A little bit of applesauce and everything glides down smoothly. No more having to get them in just the right position on the tongue, putting my head back as far as possible etc etc

One quick swallow and I’m done. I should have gotten one years ago :)

JLeslie's avatar

I wouldn’t cut a sudafed. I’m grateful for the coating around the pill. The worst is that all these generic drugs on the market tend to be larger and not coated. It’s a nightmare for me. I often pay for brand just because of my trouble swallowing pills.

Buttonstc's avatar


Have you ever tried a pill grinder? It’s the best $5 I ever spent.

The newer ones nowadays require very little effort to get them to powder. They have little ridged teeth (for lack of a better term) which work so much more quickly and efficiently than the smooth
ones from years ago.

And there are also ones that are battery operated but I’m still mulling it over whether it’s worth the extra cost.

I wish I has done this years ago.

ibstubro's avatar

Put them in a sandwich bag and beat them to powder.

ibstubro's avatar

I agree, @JLeslie. There appear to be some pill coatings and compressions that are proprietary, patented, or cost prohibitive for a start-up.

The one I remember the most was a gel-cap. I had a name-brand, but bought the generic as replacement. Tiny to horsepill.

Money no object? Stick with what you like.

Buttonstc's avatar


The sandwich bag idea is really not all as easy as it sounds. :)

I’ve tried it in the past. A couple bucks extra for a pill grinder is well worth it for ease of use.

RE: Gelcaps

Some, like Amoxicillin, can separate easily enabling mixing the powder inside with applesauce. Others, like Benadryl, are sealed so that doesn’t work for all.

ibstubro's avatar

I put things I want crushed in bags, then I crush them, @Buttonstc.
Simple guy. The marble rolling pin works best.

JLeslie's avatar

@Buttonstc I’ll consider the grinder in the future. I never heard of one for pills specifically. I take Augmentin semi regularly and when I take it I am always afraid I am going to choke and die if I am alone at home.

Buttonstc's avatar

Augmentin is one big-assed pill. I’ve had it before and back then I was only using a pill splitter and I had to chop that sucker into 16 pieces to be able to get it down.

Fortunately, if I remember correctly, it’s only twice a day dosage.

Most drugstores carry pill crusher. Just call them up and ask. Its only a few bucks so worth a try.

Plus nowadays they have applesauce available in squeeze pouches so it’s easier to cover it up on a spoon and also to carry with you.

It’s called GoGo Squeez and it comes in a green box. I use the apple/banana combo cuz I think the banana part adds a little cohesiveness to the applesauce.

The product is

pittfan20's avatar

Get A mouthful of water and then throw your head back and swallow the water at the same time but don’t throw it back too hard or you might hurt yourself. I take between 7 – 10 pills at a time and most of them are horse pills and I take them all at once and thats what I do if one of my pills gets stuck in my throat.LOL.

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