Living with HIV can sometimes give you so much to think about that you might overlook the basics.
Like, for instance, what if you have trouble getting pills down?
For starters, there’s nothing wrong with you if swallowing pills feels more like pulling teeth. Lots of people have a hard time swallowing pills for a very simple reason: the muscles that control swallowing evolved to work with chewed-up food — not solid pieces of medication.
So, it’s like this: Your body doesn’t exactly know what to do with pills — but it can learn.
Handy Tips for Swallowing Pills
If you poke around on the internet, you can find a bunch of suggestions on better ways to get pills down. But before you take any advice you read online, talk to your doctor about any issues you have with swallowing pills.
Ask Your Doctor About These Techniques:
Adding to soft foods: Try putting your pills in soft foods like pudding, yogurt and ice cream.
Alternative pill formats: Meds might be available in formats that do not require swallowing. Not all have this option, but it’s worth asking about.
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Teach Yourself New Ways to Swallow
Scientists have studied techniques that help some people improve their ability to swallow pills. Here are two:
Soft-drink method: This technique uses water pressure to wash a pill down. It may work better than just swallowing a pill with a drink of water. Here’s how it works:
Use one of those bottles that purified water comes in (or an empty pop bottle). Fill it about half way with water, put the pill on your tongue, suck in water from the bottle and keep swallowing till the pill goes down.
Lean-forward method. This technique might work better if you’re taking capsules. It goes like this:
Start with a capsule on your tongue, take a small drink of water, tilt your head down toward the floor and swallow.
Why You Can’t Afford to Ignore Pill-Swallowing Issues
Anti-retroviral medicines let people living with HIV enjoy long and productive lives. But the meds should be taken exactly as prescribed — every day like clockwork.
That's the only way the meds can prevent HIV from roaring back into your bloodstream and hijacking your immune system.
If you have trouble swallowing pills, you might be tempted to skip your meds. That’s one of the worst things you can do, because it increases the risk that the virus in your system will mutate and develop resistance to those specific meds.
The best route is to just keep working on your swallowing issues till you overcome them.
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