Author: Freya Hodgson, Online Reporter

The expression that something is ‘a hard pill to swallow’ isn’t just a metaphor. Many people have difficulty swallowing tablets, and this can be particularly distressing if you need to take medication on a daily basis. We naturally chew food before swallowing, but tablets and capsules require a conscious override to the normal chew and swallow reflex. According to Harvard, this causes one in three people to gag, vomit or choke.

But one NHS doctor has shared the best way to swallow your medicine smoothly, without gagging. Taking to TikTok, Dr Karan Rajan responded to a post in which a user had found a hack to help swallow medicine.

They put the capsule on their tongue, took a gulp of water but didn’t swallow. Then they put their head forward before swallowing the medicine, a method which Dr Rajan said works well.

He explained: “Now the best way to swallow capsules is with the head tilted forwards.

See youtube video describing technique.

“This may seem strange, but capsules are light and float in water, so when the head is tilted forward, capsules float towards the throat.

“But when the head position is neutral or slightly tilted back, the capsules float towards the teeth, making swallowing a bit more difficult.

“Now, when it comes to tablets and pills, you want your head tilted slightly back.

“This is because tablets and pills can be slightly heavier and denser – so the focus needs to be on flushing the medication into the pharynx.

“That’s the tube that connects the mouth and the oesophagus.”

The doctor explained that this method won’t make a huge difference for people who don’t have difficulty swallowing medicine. According to the NHS, taking pills with food and water can help you swallow smoothly.

The health body also explained that you should never throw the pills towards the back of your throat, or tip your head back too much as this can make it even harder to swallow.

They added: “Do not crush pills, open capsules or alter your medicine without getting medical advice.

“This could stop the medicine working properly.”

It is recommended that you speak to a pharmacist who can advise you on other versions of your medication that might be available in a different form. It is common for people to experience swallowing issues due to fear of choking – this can make your throat tense and narrow. You may also suffer from a dry mouth as well as swallowing difficulties, this is called dysphagia.