How To Swallow Large Pills

just completed my CPR certification this past weekend. I have to do it every year for one of my professional designations, and I think everyone should do it annually regardless of their occupation. I once had to perform first aid on a baby and believe me, I’m grateful that I knew what to do.

One of the things they teach you in CPR when you first encounter an unconscious casualty is to check the airway. In order to make sure that it’s open, you should tilt the head back and lift the chin (this is known as the “head-tilt/chin-lift” method). This action moves the tongue away from the back of the throat and allows air to reach the lungs. In essence, it opens up the trachea (the windpipe) and closes the esophagus (the foodpipe).

When you swallow a pill, however, you want to do the opposite action. It’s known as the “lean-forward” technique. Here’s how it’s done:

  1. Place the pill on your tongue.
  2. Take a medium sip of water, but do not swallow yet.
  3. Bend the head forward by tilting your chin toward your chest (looking down helps).
  4. Swallow the pill and water with the head bent forward.

A study published in the Annals of Family Medicine found that this technique greatly improves the ease of swallowing large capsules with most individuals. According to the researchers, “the lean-forward technique is remarkably effective even in patients experiencing the severest difficulties when swallowing capsules. It is also appropriate for patients with dysphagia and should therefore generally be recommended when swallowing capsules.”

So next time someone complains that the 1,000 mg fish oil capsule you recommended is too big to swallow, make sure to suggest the lean-forward technique.

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