Dysphagia: the Hardest Pill to Swallow

Swallowing pills comes as naturally as breathing for most people, but for others, the simple task can be painful and nearly impossible to perform. This happens to estimated 1 in 25 adults, and while it isn't exactly normal, it is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, what these people are missing out on by not admitting this problem to a doctor is that there is a condition — or rather several, maybe — associated with the difficulty in swallowing pills. This condition, or maybe group of conditions, is called dysphagia.

Dysphagia can, unsurprisingly, be rooted in psychological causes such as trauma or the fear of choking, but it can also be caused by biologic reasons: the muscles and nerves responsible for swallowing may interpret the pill such as food and feel like they need to break it down before swallowing, or they may see it as a foreign object and simply reject it on reflex.

water-pill-factsWhile this condition may seem minor for someone with outsider view, the truth is dysphagia can become quite a problem, especially for people with chronic conditions, who may be stuck taking medications for life to control symptoms, such as chronic allergy sufferers.

In the absence of a liquid or chewable adult-appropriate option, these people, particularly those who can’t recognize or won't admit to their problem, are forced to take children's medications — because the pharmaceutical industry deems it okay for children to not be able to swallow pills, but it doesn't even consider the hypothesis that adults may have the same problem.

Dysphagia can be treated with medicine, mental and physical therapies, but meanwhile sufferers still face the problem of not having appropriate, easy to swallow medication at their disposal.

Fortunately, some medicine brands are starting to recognize dysphagia as a real and serious problem, and they are moving towards offering liquid, soluble and chewable medicines. And while this medicine can sometimes be more expensive, it may be the future of prescription drugs, as everyone can actually benefit from them.

Liquid, soluble and chewable drugs are actually ingested not only with more ease, but also more quickly than traditional solid medicine. What this means is that such medicines are not only easier to take, but they also take effect a lot quicker, something which can make all the difference in emergency cases like those of an allergy, acute anxiety or heart problems.

Alexandr Sedishev