Special swallowing techniques make medication easier
Many patients have considerable difficulties taking tablets due to the dosage form of the preparations. Swallowing problems, pain when swallowing and similar complaints are not uncommon, especially with larger pills. Scientists at Heidelberg University have now tested two methods in a study that are designed to make taking medication significantly easier.
Children, in particular, are often reluctant to take tablets, especially if they cause additional difficulties when swallowing due to the dosage form. It is not uncommon for them to get the medication swallowed, even with good will. With the right technology, however, it is much easier to take the tablets, according to the research team led by Walter Haefeli from the Pharmacological Institute at the Medical Faculty of Heidelberg University.
Two special swallowing techniques investigated In their current study, the researchers let 151 adults between the ages of 18 and 85 take 16 different shaped placebos and evaluate the problems when taking them. The subjects reported difficulty swallowing the tablets and capsules, such as gagging, vomiting, or a feeling of suffocation. Subjects should then take the two dosage forms in which most complaints occurred again using special swallowing techniques: the so-called pop bottle method and the forward tilt technique. It has been shown that the pop bottle method enables a significant improvement in the swallowing of tablets (60 percent of the test persons stated this) and that the forward-tilting technique is particularly suitable for taking capsules (89 percent of the Subjects confirmed this). "Both techniques were remarkably effective (...) and should be recommended regularly," the researchers concluded in the specialist journal "Annals of Family Medicine".
Pop Bottle Method and Forward Tilt Technique According to the researchers, the tablet is placed on the tongue and then drunk water from a plastic bottle with a quick, sucking motion. The lips should remain tightly closed around the bottle opening. The plastic bottle gives way to the suction and may dent slightly. With the forward tilt technique, the capsule to be taken is also first placed on the tongue, then a sip of water is taken into the mouth and the head is tilted forward on the chest. The capsule and water are swallowed during the movement.
Recommending special swallowing techniques in general The two techniques have "significantly improved the swallowing of large oral dosage forms for most participants, irrespective of existing swallowing disorders", write Walter Haefeli and colleagues. For the first time, the advantages of these swallowing techniques are clearly documented by the current study. In future, they can be used specifically to facilitate tablet and capsule intake and are therefore generally recommended in the researchers' opinion. However, the study still shows certain weaknesses that should be addressed in upcoming studies. For example, the sample of 151 subjects is not representative and the amount of water available for ingestion was standardized in the study. Theoretically, however, more water could make swallowing easier for larger tablets, the study authors also report. Nevertheless, the study results remain a convincing argument for the use of the special swallowing techniques. (fp)