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October 15, 1982

Swallowing Medication

JAMA. 1982;248(15):1833-1834. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03330150027011

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To the Editor.—  As a participant in the Physicians Health Study (1982; 247:1381), I was required to take a capsule and a tablet of an unknown substance on alternate days. This reminded me of a little-known fact: capsules and tablets are swallowed differently.A tablet is placed in the mouth with a small amount of water, the head is tilted backward, and the tablet is swallowed. If the same procedure is followed for a capsule, the capsule, being lighter than water, will float anteriorly, and it will be difficult to swallow. This accounts for the problem many patients have with capsules. If the head or upper part of the body is tilted forward instead, the capsule will float posteriorly, where it is swallowed easily.In my limited survey of physicians, nurses, and pharmacists, I have found that this simple method of swallowing a capsule is almost universally unknown. I am