Alternatives to Pill Swallowing

Sometimes, no matter what you try, you are either not ready or might have a physical or emotional impediment to being able to swallow pills. What can you do?

The easiest and most basic approach is to simply mention to your health care provider that you have this common problem. If you aren't ready to learn how to swallow pills, explore alternative forms of the medication. The provider may be able to prescribe an alternative medicine or a medicine in a liquid form. Many medicines do come in liquid, sprinkle, or chewable forms and some can be crushed or dissolved. Some specialized pharmacies can make up an elixir that contains a palatable tasting liquid containing the required medication if you cannot swallow pills or capsules.

Medication Alternatives

Table 1: Extended-Release Dosage Forms That Should Not Be Crushed

Constant release
Continuous action
Continuous release
Controlled action
Controlled release
Delayed absorption
Delayed action
Delayed release
Extended action
Extended release
Gradual release
Long acting
Long lasting
Long-term release
Programmed release
Prolonged action
Prolonged release
Repeat action
Slow acting
Slowly acting
Slow release
Spaced release
Sustained action
Sustained release
Sustained-release depot
Timed coat
Timed disintegration
Timed release

Source: Data taken from Fig. 1 from “Don’t Crush That Tablet!” by Mary Lynn McPherson, PharmD in AMERICAN PHARMACY, May 1994, Vol. NS34, No. 5, p. 58.

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