Healthspan January 12, 2018

For some people swallowing tablets can be tough. Dysphagia, the medical name for difficulty swallowing, is a symptom of a number of neurological disorders and muscular problems that might develop. If you’re included in the one in eight adults that have problems swallowing tablets here’s some tips that may help…

Why do people have problems with swallowing tablets?

Swallowing extremely complex and when we do it we use 22 pairs of muscles. As we age the muscles throughout the body deteriorate and as such our ability to swallow could be affected over time. However, more often problems swallowing can develop as a symptom of an underlying health condition such as stroke, dementia, cancers effecting the mouth and throat, head or neck injury, cerebral palsy and Parkinson’s. Teaching children how to swallow tablets

Swallowing is not always an easy thing for children to understand. We teach them not to swallow anything until it’s completely chewed and not to put strange objects in their mouth. Swallowing pills goes against everything they’ve been taught so far, so understandably they may not pick it up the first-time. There’s no right age that a child should be taking tablets, though above 3 years old is recommended. Here’s how to make the process easier:

  • When showing your child what to do it’s good to show them. Don’t make it seem like a stressful experience.
  • Getting them to take tablets with food may help. Something with a naturally thick consistency like mashed potato, apple sauce or honey might make it more appealing.
  • Get them to take a sip of water first to ensure their throat is lubricated.
  • As we’ve said before, there’s no right age to start taking tablets so if your child isn’t ready then start with a chewable alternative while they practise.

What are the signs to look out for?

The medical term for problems with swallowing is dysphagia. This term isn’t just associated with tablets, it also includes difficulties with swallowing food and liquids. This disorder not only causes issues when it comes to taking medicines but can also cause problems on social occasions and going out for meals.

Are there any easy ways for me to swallow tablets and do I have to swallow pills with water?

Taking tablets with food can help alleviate the taste and help it go down more easily. Here’s some good ones to try:

  • Bread – put a small piece in the mass of the bread and it should go down more smoothly.
  • Gummy bears – cutting a hole into a gummy bear and sweet can make the pill taste nicer. This technique is particularly good for children.
  • Honey – put the pill in a spoonful of honey to help the pill go down and then wash down with water.
  • Soft food like yoghurt, ice cream or applesauce – this is a technique often used with people that have difficulty swallowing to make the process easier.

When it comes to supplements are there any alternatives to tablets?

If you choose to take a supplement there’s plenty of alternatives to tablets. If you’re looking for fast absorption then sprays are a good way to get your supplements. If you’re looking for something on the go or at your desk then taking drinking a YoGo may be beneficial. Shake your emptied sachet in the bottle provided with milk to enjoy a yoghurt drink infused with the nutrient and flavour of your choice. An alternative way to get the vitamins that you need is to take chewable gummy supplements. There’s plenty of varieties to choose from such as vitamin D, multi vitamins, and vitamins for men and women. If you want to incorporate supplements into your snacking routine there are bars out there infused with all the goodies you provide you with a better alternative and to allow you to snack in a smarter way.

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