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Tough Pill to Swallow

July 14, 2015

Many sick kids can't or won't swallow pills - and that can make them sicker. But there may be some pretty simple ways to help the medicine go down, a new study says.

Dr. Kathleen Bradford at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill reviewed research on pill-swallowing techniques. Several seemed to help, including flavored swallowing spray, a special pill cup and just practice with a regular cup and fake pills or candy.

Swallowing medicine is hard for at least 1 in 10 kids, Bradford said. Taste, pill size, fear and discomfort are among the reasons. The result can be missed doses of prescribed medicine and worsening of symptoms it's meant to treat. There are only a handful of studies on pill swallowing. A special pill cup helped in one study. But most kids learned using a regular cup, with practice.

In the other studies: swallowing with the head in different positions including chin-up or turned to one side worked for some; as did throat spray to mask the icky flavor and help pills glide down.

Making pill-taking fun instead of punitive is helpful, Bradford said. At her hospital, kids are encouraged to think of tongues as water slides, and swallowing a pill gives it a ride into the stomach.

- Associated Press



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