Lots of people find it hard to swallow pills. There are things you can try to make it easier and a pharmacist can offer advice.

How to make it easier to swallow pills


  • take pills with water - you can take some pills with other drinks or food. Always read the instruction leaflet.
  • lean forward slightly when you swallow
  • practice swallowing with small sweets or bits of bread - try bigger pieces as swallowing gets easier


  • do not throw pills towards the back of your throat
  • do not tip your head back too much when you swallow - this can make swallowing more difficult
  • do not crush pills, open capsules or alter your medicine witout getting medical advice - this could stop the medicine working properly

Important - Don't try these tips if you also have difficulty swallowing food and drink (not just pills), as you might choke. See a pharmacist or GP for advice.

A pharmacist can help if you can't swallow pills

A pharmacist can advise you about:

  • other versions of your medicine that might be available - for example, you might be able to get it as a liquid or dissolvable tablet
  • crushing, dividing or opening up tablets and capsules - this should only be done on their advice

Find a pharmacy.

Causes of swallowing problems

Problems swallowing pills can be due to:

  • fear of choking - this can make your throat tense and narrow when you try to swallow
  • a dry mouth
  • general swallowing difficulties (dysphagia) - for example, due to a condition such as a stroke

The information on this page has been adapted by NHS Wales from original content supplied by NHS UK NHS website nhs.uk
Last Updated: 04/05/2021 15:26:37