Try the ‘Lean-Forward’ Method To Prevent Pills From Getting Stuck in Your Throat

Photo: Getty Images / AzmanJaka
Whether the pill itself is on the larger size (like those omega-3 supplements), or you like to swallow more than one vitamins in a single gulp, it's totally common for a tablet to not make it all the way down the chute on occasion. To prevent this from happening, next time try the lean-forward method.

“It allows people to safely swallow supplements or medications without gagging,” says Bindiya Gandhi, MD. “The premise is to put the pill in the middle of your tongue, take a swig of water, and lean your head forward so you can easily swallow."


Experts In This Article
  • Bindiya Gandhi, MD, double board-certified functional and integrative family physician with a focus in holistic medicine

Why the lean-forward method works

The lean-forward method is a better and safer way to swallow pills because it puts you in a position that won't close off your throat, according to Dr. Ghandi. "Tilting your head forward allows the capsules to move back to your throat, which allows you to swallow easier,” Dr. Gandhi says. “When you tilt your head backward, it opens up your airway, and essentially could block it off, which could be problematic.

Although the lean-forward method can increase ability to swallow pills without problem by 96.9 percent, according to a 2014 study by Annals of Family Medicine, you should still be cautions when taking any medicine or supplements orally because there is a choking hazard. “Don’t take too many pills at a time—just one to two,” warns Dr. Gandhi, adding to also drink plenty of water in order to help push the medicine down.

If you’re still struggling after trying to lean-forward method, Dr. Gandhi advises speaking to your healthcare professional. “Talk to your doctor in case there are contradictions for you to swallow capsules or pills after surgery or procedures or you have any medical problems that may be an issue.”

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