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Swallowing issues swallow up a lot of time for speech-language pathologists. According to AHSA,1 SLPs working in adult settings spend about 40% of their time on swallowing issues, and even more If they work in medical or long-term care facilities (LTCFs).

By Ryan Hanson

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When I work with people who have trouble swallowing pills or fear of swallowing whole pills, I hear a lot of detailed descriptions on how hard it can be, such as:

  • “I have to swallow that horse pill?”
  • “I didn’t take my antibiotic pill this morning because I couldn’t swallow it.”
  • “When I take pills whole with water, I choke on the pill and the liquid is probably going down the wrong way.”
  • “I am afraid of swallowing pills whole; they don’t even get out of my mouth.”
  • “I have to lay back at a 45-degree angle or toss my head way back to get the pill out of my mouth.”
  • “I have to push the pill to the back of my mouth before I take a sip of water, to make sure the pill gets out of my mouth. Sometimes that makes me gag!”
  • “My mouth is too dry, and pills get stuck on my tongue.”
  • “When I first wake up in the morning, I am so stiff because of my Parkinson’s Disease, that even swallowing my Parkinson medication (which helps me get moving) is almost impossible.”

By Karen Sheffler, MS, CCC-SLP, BCS-S

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