Author: Kathleen Bryant, Clinical Pharmacist
Sometimes a spoonful of sugar doesn’t help the medicine go down. It can be hard to swallow pills and remember to take them every day. Knowing how to take your medication, when to take it and what to do if you skip a dose can be a challenge. The challenge becomes even greater if you’re managing multiple medication therapies. Fortunately, there are ways to make it easier for you to take your medication.
Make Sure Your Understand Your Medication Regimen
It’s important to know which pills to take, when to take them and what to do if you miss a dose. When you get a new prescription, it’s helpful to walk through your complete medication profile with your pharmacist. He or she can help you understand each medication and address any potential side effects. If you have questions about your medication regimen, be sure to ask your pharmacist. Your pharmacist at Amber Pharmacy will review your complete medication profile and guide you through your medication therapy.
Establish a Medication Schedule
Work with your doctor, your pharmacist and your healthcare team to develop a medication schedule. This is especially important if you have multiple prescriptions or take medications throughout the day. Ask your pharmacist which medications you can take together. Try to coordinate the medications you take at regular intervals or at certain times during the day. Once you establish a routine, it’s often easier to manage multiple medications. If you accidentally miss a dose, contact your pharmacist to figure out how to get back on track.
Set Electronic Medication Reminders
Taking your medication on time is important to stay on track with your medication schedule. If you have a hard time remembering to take your medicine, try setting electronic reminders. There are apps, calendar alerts and reminder notification options on most phones, tablets, computers and electronic devices. These programmed reminders can be especially helpful on busy days when you lose track of time.
Drink Plenty of Water
Most people drink water while they swallow pills, but you should also drink water before and after. Drinking water before and after you swallow a pill makes it easier for the medicine to glide down your throat. When pills get stuck in the esophagus, it’s more than uncomfortable. Having the medicine lodged in your throat can cause irritation, inflammation, ulcers and other damage to your esophagus.
Hide Your Pills in Food, but Ask Your Pharmacist First
Ask your pharmacist if you can take your pills with soft foods such as yogurt or applesauce. Hiding a pill in soft foods often makes it easier to swallow while masking the taste. However, it’s important to check with a pharmacist first because some medications are not meant to be taken with food. You also need to ask your pharmacist before cutting, crushing or altering the form of your pills.
Find the Right Head Position
There are different ways to swallow a pill. Some people tilt their head backward. Other recommendations tell you to lean forward or use the pop-bottle method. Find what’s comfortable for you and go for it! For capsules, the Annals of Family Medicine recommends the learn-forward technique. With this technique, place the capsule on your tongue, take a sip of water and lean forward to swallow. Many people find it helpful to practice swallowing pills with different head postures by swallowing candy. Practice swallowing candy such as Skittles®, Tic Tacs® or M&M’S® until you find a head position that’s comfortable for you.
Numb Your Gag Reflex
Try numbing your gag reflex when you take pills, especially if the pills are large and hard to swallow. Ask your pharmacist to recommend a numbing spray or throat lozenge to make it easier to swallow your medication.
Do Not Crush, Cut or Alter Your Pills
Do not try to crush or alter your pills without first checking with your pharmacist. Some pills are designed to release medication over an extended amount of time. Cutting, crushing or chewing your medication may change the way it reacts with your body. Always talk to your pharmacist if you’re having trouble swallowing your pills or taking your medications. Your pharmacist at Amber Pharmacy can walk you through the process and address any questions or concerns.
Tell Your Pharmacist if You Have Trouble with Your Medications
Tell your pharmacist if you’re having a hard time taking your medicine. Do not stop taking your medication without talking to your doctor and your pharmacist first. Trouble swallowing can be a symptom of other medical conditions. It’s important to keep your healthcare team informed about your medication therapy, especially if you have trouble taking your medication. Together, you can figure out the best way to move forward with your treatment.
Managing Medications with Amber Pharmacy
At Amber Pharmacy, we specialize in managing complex conditions. Our clinical pharmacists are familiar with the nuances of specialty medications and know what it takes to live well with multiple chronic conditions. Refill reminder text alerts, our patient portal and our responsive patient care team all work together to help Amber Pharmacy patients stay medication adherent. If you or your patients are having trouble managing medication, contact Amber Pharmacy to see how we can help.